Convocation of UWA Graduates

2013 Reunion

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Beautiful decorations, old exam papers provided as place mats, 1960s memorabilia and background music, as well as Barbara Streisand's hit song "The Way We Were" all helped set the scene for the 50th reunion of graduates from The University of Western Australia, which took place in November.

UWA Golden Jubilee

UWA's Golden Jubilee graduates celebrate 50 years

 

Memories there were aplenty, accompanied by much laughter and even some tears as the UWA graduates of 1963 shared recollections of their very special times at university - and what has happened
in the 50 years since.

The Warden of Convocation, Warren Kerr AM, who welcomed the graduates of 1963 - including some who travelled from overseas and around Australia - to the 28th Convocation-organised reunion luncheon at the University Club, reminded the 130 people at the event that 1963 was the year UWA celebrated its first 50 years.

UWA Golden Jubilee 2

"In that Golden Jubilee year, Convocation invited as its guest speaker a member of the Guild Council of 1913, Margaret Fairweather, to provide her memories of her time at UWA."

"During her address, she recalled her years in the Irwin Street buildings in the city, known colloquially as 'Tin Pot Alley', with no grounds, no gardens, no refectory, and no bookshop."

"Quite a contrast to the memories I am sure you share of our wonderful campus in the 1960s, and the even more fully developed campus we now have today."

Gerard King, a lawyer and businessman who graduated in 1963, reminisced: "1963 was for each of you far more significant for not being at uni anymore, but was in fact the year that most of us faced up to the prospect of 50 years of hard slog working for a living."

UWA Golden Jubilee 3  

"It was a different world that we threw ourselves into in 1963, from that which we have survived to live in today."

The Toast to The University, which was met with acclaim, was proposed by Eugene Schlusser, a graduate of 1963 who came to Australia as a refugee with his widowed mother and three siblings. He went on to organise the first ever Intervarsity Drama Festival that was held in Western Australia in the Old Dolphin Theatre - which he had helped to build in 1960 - and co-edited and published The Critic through the University Literary Society.

His career has included working for ABC radio and television, freelance acting, directing and media writing, and as a senior lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts (now Melbourne University) before founding his own independent production company Seven S Productions, which is still producing films today.

UWA Golden Jubilee 4

Mr Schlusser chairs the board of Aphids Events Inc - a role he has held for over 15 years - and in that time this Melbourne-based, cross-media arts organisation has taken performances to New York, Japan, Brussels, Copenhagen and Rome, as well as around Australia.

"I propose this toast to my, our, University - for many years I wasn't able to call anything 'mine', so I wish to emphasise that - because it gave me many things, not least, self-respect," Mr Schlusser said.

"I had been born in Frankfurt, in Germany, the fourth child to Russian parents, and when I first came to
Australia, I had only recently survived six years of perhaps the bloodiest war in history."

"Well, now, books are appearing about post-World War II migrants' experiences with such titles as We Came With Nothing."

"At UWA, my teachers and mentors appreciated that wasn't true, that I and many others brought cultural riches to this country."

UWA Golden Jubilee 5 

"Self-respect, wisdom, self-knowledge, randomness and ambiguity - and how to deal with it - these are qualities I was introduced to at this university and it allowed me integrate what had been a very fractured life."

"So, I propose a toast to our university, to the men and women who have guided and continue to guide my, our, university. To the 100 years of students, who have not only sought form, but also accepted ambiguity."

Clinical Professor Alexander Cohen, a UWA graduate and already a UWA staff member in 1963 who still teaches today, as well as a former Convocation-elected member of Senate and former UWA Chancellor, responded to the Toast on behalf of the University, assisted by Barbara Streisand's hit song "The Way We Were".

UWA Golden Jubilee 6 

"What if you hadn't attended The University of Western Australia at a formative period of your life? Whom might you have married? How might your career have evolved? What understandings, what deep inner friendships might you not have made had you not come here?" Professor Cohen asked.

"You remember the poem of Robert Frost: two roads, one untaken and the regrets associated with that?"

"We did take a road which has given us a degree of pride and sense of relevance, and sense of participation in this institution, which is really great, and is going to go on to greater things."

"The organiser of last year's 50th Reunion, Pauline Tremlett, said the event was a great success."

"The display of memorabilia was especially outstanding on this occasion. And for everyone able to attend, it certainly enabled the revival of friendships and brought back wonderful memories of their times studying and enjoying life at UWA," she said.

"These annual 50th Reunions, which are organised by Convocation - this Centennial event is the 28th for us - are always very memorable events for everyone involved. However in this Centennial year, it was particularly special given it was a gathering of those who graduated in UWA's Golden Jubilee year, 1963."

Before the Reunion luncheon, a very pleasant and successful walking tour of the grounds was led by Ron Bodycoat, the University's Heritage Architect. Others enjoyed a tram tour of the University with an excellent commentary from Terry Larder, Co-ordinator of the UWA Visitors Centre.

A booklet of biographies, including all the graduates from 1963 at the Reunion and many who were unable to attend, was provided to all at the luncheon.

"I sincerely thank all the graduates of 1963 who were a part of a brilliant and very willing organising committee who made sure the Reunion was such an exceptional event," Ms Tremlett said.

"Planning for the next 50th Reunion - for UWA students who graduated in 1964 - is well under way, so please spread the word to colleagues and friends that this event will be held later this year."

View all the photos from the Reunion on Flickr