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Convocation Connecting October 2023

Soaring like eagles

Did you know that the word ‘Convocation’, as well as meaning a large formal gathering of people, is also the collective noun for a group of eagles? Representing courage, determination, pride, and grace, they have powerful vision, are fearless, tenacious, highflyers, and nurture their young. These are leadership characteristics that are encouraged at UWA.

Eagles are significant to many Indigenous cultures. The Wedge-tailed Eagle is known as Waalitj to Noongar people. In Canada, as a symbol of its enduring partnership with Indigenous people, the University of Toronto created a new ceremonial role. Today an Indigenous alumni bearing an Eagle’s feather leads the Chancellor’s procession at the university’s Convocation Ceremony (known to us as a Graduation Ceremony) when students are awarded their graduation certificates and become members of Convocation.

We on Convocation Council are privileged to be able help UWA students achieve their potential and honoured to recognise inspiring members who have already soared like eagles.

Convocation Award winners 

Now that Covid is largely behind us, we were delighted to welcome a hard-working, determined and ambitious group of UWA’s postgraduate students when they were presented with Convocation Awards at our Spring General Meeting at the University Club of WA on 21 September 2023. 

These awards will enable them to follow their innovative plans for national and overseas travel, which includes internships, conferences, archival and laboratory research. On their return next year, we hope to share some stories of their experience with you.

We also presented the 2023 Matilda Award for Cultural Excellence. This year it went to Heather Blakey in the field of Literature and Creative Writing. As a young scholar, she has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the educational possibilities and cultural impacts of the gaming industry. Her work is reshaping our understanding of gender roles and demonstrating how independently produced games interact with literary and cultural narratives.

Sports Awards

I was delighted to present the UWA Sport Convocation Bursaries in front of a packed audience at a fabulous lunch in the UWA Club Ballroom on 24 October 2023.  The winners were Rhianna Hepburn and Jes Bromley.

Did you know the UWA Sport represents some 29 UWA Sporting Clubs, as well as a host of social sports? Sport plays a central role in the lives of so many students; encouraging new friendships, skills and healthy campus culture. Thousands of UWA students play sport, and some clubs have a history stretching back a century. The UWA Boat Club launched their impressive centenary history book earlier this year and next year the UWA Hockey Club will be celebrating its centenary.  

Convocation Medallists Awarded

This year two Convocation Medals were presented at the Spring General Meeting. Sadly, both medallists have passed away, but we recalled their eminence in their fields and the contribution they made to UWA and the wider society. Their medals were presented to their sons, who expressed heartfelt admiration of their fathers and the legacy they had left.

Firstly, to the late Professor Bruce Hartley (1940-2019), physicist, cyclist, keen member of the UWA Rugby Club and a regular face at Convocation General Meetings. During his career, he was Physicist-in-charge of the Radiation Health Division of the Health Department and secretary of the Department’s Radiological Council. There he oversaw and monitored the use of radiation in industry and health, the mining of radioactive minerals, and the disposal and safe storage of radioactive waste. 

Vale Professor Bruce Hartley. He is synonymous with UWA Rugby, playing for Uni for forty years and then president of the Club. He was a member of the UWA Rugby Centurions’ Club for having played a minimum of 100 games and is listed in the ‘Best Uni Teams of 75 Years’. In presenting the medal, past Warden Dr Doug McGhie concluded that graduates like Bruce were ‘the heart and soul of club life at the University of Western Australia’.

Secondly, to Professor Edgar William (Ted) Snell, AM CitWA (1949-2023), UWA’s Chief Cultural Officer and Director of the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery as well as the University’s cultural ambassador and spokesman. Previously he was Professor of Contemporary Art and Dean of Art in the John Curtin Gallery at Curtin University. 

As well as his role as an arts commentator for the ABC and The Australian, he chaired many boards. These included the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, Artbank, the Asialink Visual Arts Advisory Committee, the Australian Experimental Art Foundation, and University Art Museums Australia, and was a board member of the National Association for the Visual Arts. Ted was a visual arts practitioner, author of six books, and many articles and essays. 

No other writer or critic has contributed so much to the documentation of local visual arts practice and the wider national acknowledgement of Western Australian based visual artists. His Convocation Medal was presented by past Warden, Adjunct Professor Warren Kerr AM.

Federal Minister Madeleine King speaks

Our Guest Speaker at the Spring General Meeting was the Hon Madeleine King, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. Madeleine is no stranger to UWA and it was wonderful to welcome a UWA graduate and member of Convocation, now in such high office. As well as recalling her time at UWA, she reflected on the university’s role in the mining industry to assist the world to reach a net zero future.

UWA ESG Launch

Mercer, UWA's Implemented Consultant, hosted a presentation on Monday 20th October at the University Club about UWA's approach to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) related issues within its investment portfolio.

Among other factors, guests learnt about the way global challenges, such as climate change, increased regulatory pressure and demographic changes, represent a new or increasing risk for investors, and UWA.  

Coming events

Back to Earth: Want to Volunteer for a campus self-drive experience?
The fully self-drive UWA campus bus is making a comeback. It is going to be a regular cross campus service picking up passengers and self-driving to the next stop. Each journey needs to have a trip guardian, a volunteer to look after the journey. The Robotics Team are looking for volunteers to take on this role. All you need is a current Australian driver’s licence and a little time.

Yes, there is a training program too so you will be well versed in what to do. If you want to be involved, please email [email protected] and signup for a terrific adventure and a chance to meet students and enjoy the campus.

50th Reunion High Tea
Reminders have just gone out for our 50th Reunion High Tea to be held in the UWA Club Restaurant (upstairs). We’re looking forward to welcoming former Premier Colin Barnett AC as our guest speaker.

If you’re a 1973 graduate, please rsvp as soon as possible. Don’t forget to send in a 250-word biography to let fellow graduates know what you’ve been up to in the past fifty years. If by chance you don’t receive an email with the link, contact [email protected].

Have your say in Student Accommodation Planning at the Nedlands Campus
As part of the UWA 2020 Masterplan, UWA is exploring the use of UWA's Nedlands site, and possibilities for development.

The site - bordering Stirling Highway, Hampden Road, Clifton Street and Gordon Street, Nedlands, has been identified as appropriate for alternative uses, one of which is the potential development of new student residential accommodation. 

If you are interested in being part of the focus group workshops, to discuss the planning concepts and development, please register here for either the Tuesday 31st October session, or Thursday 2nd November session.

What will the impact of Higher Education reviews be?
We are waiting with bated breath on the final reports of the State Government’s Review of the WA University Sector and the Federal Government’s ACCORD. 

Due out by the end of 2023, we look forward to organising a discussion in the new year around future trends in Higher Education in this state.

Emeritus Professor Jenny Gregory AM
Warden of Convocation
Convocation • M362, Perth WA 6009 Australia
T +61 411 517 351 E [email protected]


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