The Reverend Canon Dr Ivan Head, BA(UWA), BD(MCD), PhD(Glasgow) (Warden 1995 – 2017)
Dr Ivan arrived in College in December 1994 to take up his formal appointment from the start of 1995. He was born in Western Australia and he graduated in Arts from the University of Western Australia in 1975. Passing up Philosophy Honours, he then completed a Bachelor’s degree in Divinity at the Melbourne College of Divinity (1976-78), as a non-resident member of Trinity, our sibling college at Melbourne University, while also enrolled in Philosophy courses (and one on Indian Thought) at the University. He remembers Trinity’s Warden, Dr Evan Burge, as an exceptional teacher of New Testament Greek.
He and his young family (he married Christine in 1973) then returned to Perth, where Archbishop Geoffrey Sambell ordained him deacon in 1978 and priest in 1979, and where he spent several years as a curate at Mosman Park. The period 1981-84 he spent with his family in Scotland, where he completed his PhD thesis at the University of Glasgow. His intellectual focus at this point was the theology of miracles, and his thesis was entitled, “How Miraculous Can We Consider Jesus to Have Been?”. At the same time he worked in the Scottish Episcopal parish of St Cuthbert’s Cambusland and St Andrew’s Uddington, which exposed him to a distinctive view of the Anglican Communion.
The Heads then returned to Western Australia, and Ivan to teaching in the fledgling Anglican Institute of Theology. The Institute became part of a consortium that taught Theological Studies for degrees awarded by Murdoch University. “In lecturing”, he says, “I became a bit of an all-rounder but retained a special interest in the Gospels and in aspects of the Oxford Movement.”
In 1991 he was appointed Warden of Christ College, the Anglican college at the University of Tasmania, remaining there for four years.
It was a time of significant reform for Christ College, and it affirmed his view that he is, as he put it “an incrementalist”. “I … prefer gradual change to apocalyptic shifts.”
This was his approach to his work at St Paul’s College, where he took up office as Warden at the beginning of the academic year 1995. Having already been a Canon of St George’s Cathedral, Perth, and of St David’s, Hobart, he was made Canon Theologian of All Saints’ Cathedral, Bathurst.
At St Paul’s he flourished as a philosopher (an ethicist, in particular, and chair of the Ethics Committee of Sydney IVF), a photographer, a poet and an historian of ideas (especially of the sixteenth century) and published poetry in 2005, The Projectionist, and a companion volume in 2017, The Magpie Sermons. He remains well-loved by his men, some 1,500, have passed through the College in his time and in his final year as Warden the College won back the Rawson Cup and the men excelled in their studies producing an unparalleled year of academic merit.
SPIRE IN FICUS: Overlay at St Paul’s by Ivan Head
Behind the Spire’s needle point, the bank of Ficus surges in the wind like a wall of water,
A Tsunami beyond the Arnott roofline, it frames South Quad in dense sea-greens.
Speech crackles like lightning on the Spire’s tip.
I see one large angel with bleeding foot balancing above the spectrum:
The window in morning sunlight akin to Blue Poles or Waterlillies.
Wittgenstein said “A picture reaches right out to reality”.
The antidote: I see Pulp Fiction’s sudden narco-jab punched through the skin.