Despite dark clouds, after four days of rain, a shaft of sunshine lit up Emma Mezger, UWA Guild President, and Brett Davies, Deputy Warden of Convocation, as they planted a white jacaranda to mark UWA’s Convocation Day 2021.
Watching were the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor, members of Senate and Convocation. In a few years, white jacarandas will line the east side of James Oval to form Convocation Walk.
Just opposite is the old UWA Irwin Street building, originally located near St George’s Hall in Perth where the first meeting of Convocation was held 107 years ago on 4 March 2013.
On that day, sixty members of Perth society — graduates from universities around the world and representatives of commerce, industry, science and education — gathered together to form a convocation in the tradition of the ancient universities of Britain.
They had lobbied government to establish a university for over a decade. All would be elated by the success of the ‘grand enterprise’ that they had embarked upon and astonished that members of UWA’s Convocation now number over 129,000.
This year's Convocation Day was crowned by a tour of the recently completed Bilya Marlee (River of the Swan), the stunning new Indigenous Studies building designed by the late Kerry Hill.
Inspired by the swan’s nest — a safe place of fertility, birth, parenting and teaching — it will contribute Aboriginal knowledge, stories and concepts to the university through its students, research and teaching.
The first Aboriginal student attended UWA in 1957, but it was not until 1988 that the first Centre for Aboriginal Programmes was established under the leadership of Jill Milroy.
Since that time UWA has welcomed and graduated hundreds of Aboriginal students, including many who are now doctors, dentists and lawyers all making their mark.