From the Warden
Communication is one of the key statutory roles of Convocation. Every Convocation member has the right to attend our two General meetings each year — in March and September — and at those meetings to receive reports from the Vice Chancellor, the Guild President and the Warden, as well as to hear from a guest speaker, and have the opportunity to ask questions with or without notice. This is part of Convocation’s statutory responsibility and it goes two ways
Convocation is required to communicate its members’ interests and opinions about matters affecting the University to the rest of the University community, while the rest of the University community is required to communicate matters affecting the University to the members of Convocation.
Recently, several Convocation members have asked when Convocation bulletins giving information about Convocation activities are published. As you know, there have been considerable staff changes within the university over the past few years and with change often comes uncertainty as corporate memory disappears and new staff develop new systems.
This bulletin — ‘Convocation Connecting’ — will now come out regularly three times a year — in May, July and October — and the Warden’s page will continue to appear in the Summer and Winter editions of UniView.
It was terrific to meet up with all those who attended the Spring General Meeting on 15 September and to know that a large number were attending online. Due to Covid, it was our first in-person meeting since 2019. We were delighted to have Professor Tim Colmer, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor with us representing the Vice Chancellor who was overseas. All the reports were printed in the meeting booklet, available at https://www.convocation.uwa.edu.au/ordinary-meetings
Because of parliamentary business, our guest speaker Kate Chaney MHR was not able to attend the meeting in person, but we were delighted to be able to screen my pre-recorded fireside conversation with her in the old Irwin St building where she reflected on her time at UWA and answered questions about her parliamentary platform. Notable at the end of the Spring Meeting was the inclusion of questions without notice, for the first time for some years. The questions came thick and fast and resulted in some interesting and lively discussions, which is exactly what should occur at a General Meeting of the University.
The hybrid Spring meeting demonstrated that our online capabilities have increased markedly during the pandemic. Council meetings have been held on Teams for many months, and our Awards Ceremony was completely online.
Judging awards is always a big task and I am very grateful to Nee Nee Ong, Chair of our Awards Committee, and her team. To then present the awards online was a significant challenge and we were fortunate that the expertise of Professor Marc Tennant, Chair of our IT Committee and Claire Watkins, acting Convocation Officer, made it possible. The complex challenges of introducing and awarding 21 students online were well resolved, and we were grateful for the input of Professors Jennifer Howell, Pro Vice-Chancellor Global Engagement, and Imelda Whelehan, Dean of the Graduate Research School. Not forgetting one of our awardees, Penny York, who spoke engagingly on the impact that the award had made on her research. You can find the list of awardees at https://www.convocation.uwa.edu.au/prizes-and-scholarship.
Our survey after the ceremony showed that most people who attended were satisfied or very satisfied with the online ceremony, but there were mixed feelings with a majority preference for an in-person event. An online event represents a considerable financial saving, so we will need to secure funding to enable us to celebrate the achievements of those who have won awards in-person next year.
The Covid pandemic has highlighted the important role that universities play in providing expert advice as well as the mutual benefits of community engagement. During this challenging time, Convocation Council has reflected on how Convocation can best support these endeavours, and in 2020, it established a committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the current and historical role of Convocation and ways of increasing its effectiveness.
After conducting a forensic audit of the role that Convocation Council has played representing its members as the custodians of UWA since its inception in 1913, the Review Committee concluded that, as one member put it, Convocation is ‘a slumbering behemoth’ which has yet to achieve its full potential. It found that the present structure of Council does not meet current requirements and needs to be modified to meet the changed conditions of the 21st century.
To awaken this dormant potential, the Review Committee recommended that Convocation Council adopt a comprehensive program of reforms which the Council has now incorporated into a new Strategic Plan entitled ‘Convocation Council Reimagined’ to be implemented over the next three years from 2023 to 2025.
As indicated at the Spring General Meeting, implementation of this Strategic Plan will require some changes to the Convocation chapter of the UWA Statute. These have been discussed with the Chancellor and our Governance Committee is working on these at present before consideration by the Senate.
The Strategic Plan will be available online from Monday 31 October 2022 on the Convocation website https://www.convocation.uwa.edu.au/ for your perusal. We value your opinions and look forward to your comments. Please send to [email protected] by c.o.b. 30 November 2022.
Convocation Day will be held at 4pm Sunday 16 October, with the planting of three trees at the south end of Convocation Walk on Saw Ave by past Wardens and Guild Presidents of 2022 and 2014 and 2015 (returning to campus especially for the event), followed by the unveiling of Kate Cullity’s sculpture by Friends of the Grounds on Prescott Court.
Coming up on 26 November at the University Club. As always, under the able leadership of Angela Evangelinou-Yiannakis and her Events Committee, it promises to be an excellent event and we are especially pleased that former Premier Dr Geoff Gallop will be coming across from Sydney to be the guest speaker. Please book as soon as you can, as tickets are selling well. Details are online at 50th Reunion 2022
Nominations for Convocation Council open on 1 November — less than a month away. Nominations will close on 1 December, with voting commencing in January and the results announced at the Autumn Ordinary General Meeting on 16 March 2023. Details will soon be on the website.
Special Opportunities for Convocation Members
is offering a 20% discount on all full price books to all Convocation members. The discount code is CONVOCATION20. Check out their fabulous clearance sale, including $10 clearance cookbooks, while stocks last at UWA Publishing online
All UWA Graduates may apply for free library membership, which includes online access to a selection of online research databases and journals. Alumni Database online
Callout for Recollections
In the early 1930s, the weatherboard and corrugated-iron roofed buildings from UWA’s original campus in Irwin Street in the city were transported to Crawley. They had already been ‘repurposed’ from the Goldfields and other locations. A decade or so later they were joined by ‘demountables’ of WW2 vintage.
Were your student units taken in these ‘old’ buildings that once stood on the western (Fairway) edge of the campus between the site of the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery and the site of E-Zone opposite Edwards Street? Did you do Law there? Psychology? Architecture? Adult Education? Extension Service? Festival of Perth office? the Radio Station? Do you recall ‘old’ Arts V and Arts VI near the Sunken Garden? Did your relatives teach or work there in the 30s-40s-50s-60s, 70’s and later?
Dr Joan Pope OAM and Dr Margo Warburton wish to compile information, anecdotes, maps and photos of these buildings which are now all gone. If you’re interested in joining Joan and Margot on this project, please let them know. Email your recollections to [email protected] soon, please!