This is the response from the Governing Committee of the UWA Academic Staff Association to the redundancies announced by the Vice Chancellor. The Committee and, we’re sure, the Vice Chancellor, would welcome hearing your views.
Archives for December 2015
It’s a pleasure to return to UWA for the first time since my departure party in 2012, prior to taking up my role at La Trobe University. UWA is the source of many memories, mostly fond, and certainly related to the people at this university. Among them are those colleagues who saw fit to nominate me for this award, which is an enormous honour. It reminds me again of the collegiality among peers which is the lifeblood of universities, and which was for me, when I was informed of it by Raymond, very touching and very unexpected.
Many thanks for this award. I am humbled and honoured to receive it. This award is a monument to Philippa’s leadership, but it is not the only one. The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions is another aspect of her legacy. The Centre is particularly important not only for its collaborative ethos, but also for a focus on a topic that truly requires more attention in our contemporary context. What is the emotional climate in our universities as they become leaner and even meaner in response to funding cuts and the neoliberal colossus of every increasing corporatisation? In many ways the parameters of this award thus converge with a prime focus of the centre. That focus has been a continuing concern of mine.
My first years of postgraduate education in the USA were funded by a Danforth Fellowship. This fellowship was primarily oriented to preparing, through workshops and other activities, educators who would teach in liberal arts colleges. That term educator has been a guiding one for me, as to me education should be the focus of not only liberal arts colleges, but universities as well. I have been appalled by the reorientation of the Australian tertiary sector toward training, the transmission of skill sets, even in terms of the very term used for many PhD scholarships – research training fellowships. To me education is a much more encompassing process oriented to the cultivation of critical and compassionate sensibilities. And in fostering those sensibilities the pastoral functions we perform as educators are paramount. While I agree that we must be professional in our workplace, much of how we foster those sensibilities must be through personal rather than just professional relationships. In many ways that has been my credo, however often I have come short in practice.
To celebrate the positive influence of UWA academics, past and present on students and the wider community, the UWA Academic Staff Association inaugurated its biennial Philippa Maddern Awards on Friday 13 November 2015.
The awards are named after Winthrop Professor Philippa Maddern (1953-2014) who amply possessed the virtues that the awards celebrate. Philippa was an immensely creative and versatile individual with wit, energy and fierce sense of justice. A widely respected scholar of medieval English History and an inspiring teacher and academic leader at UWA, she was known especially as an expert on the history of women and the family.
The three remarkable recipients of the 2015 awards show that Philippa’s many admirable qualities and values are held in common by the very best at UWA.
In the category of Present Staff, Professor Gregory Acciaioli is recognised for his many and valued positive influences on colleagues and students. His letter of nomination quoted: “all of us who are lucky enough to know Greg as a colleague or teacher are grateful for his unbridled enthusiasm for knowledge, his generosity and scholarly integrity”. It also included detailed instances of the things he does, and the person he is, that confirm his work ethic and explain why he is so warmly regarded.
In time it will be less likely that those who receive the award will have known Philippa in person or have had the opportunity to work closely with her, therefore it is coincidental, but none the less somewhat fitting that the recipient Jane Long, former colleague at UWA, in the category, Academics Retired or No Longer Working at UWA, was so personally and warmly acquainted with Philippa. Jane’s nomination especially referred to her extraordinary leadership and support of learning at UWA and among other things, to her generous mentorship of individuals in the Leadership Development of Women program.
The Posthumous Award honoured Professor Geoffory Shellam’s many wonderful influences on both individuals and the academic community. The nomination included the following observation: “Geoff was one of those rarest of rare birds; a research and teaching enthusiast, an academic citizen who did not shirk administrative burdens, a busy person who always had time to talk and whose life of curiosity and compassion inspired so many.”
Professor Fiona Stanley received the award on Geoff’s behalf and charmed all present with an engaging and most insightful and colourful portrayal of this remarkable man.
The strength of the field amply rewarded UWAASA’s decision to recognise the influence that academics have on colleagues and students at UWA. As with Philippa, their inspirational leadership, dedication to students and a litany of kind acts is building a permanent and positive legacy. UWAASA is pleased to commemorate this legacy with these Awards and looks forward to a robust field of candidates in 2017.
Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson and Association President Professor Ray da Silva Rosa presented the awards and welcomed colleagues, students, members of Philippa’s family (several of whom travelled from Melbourne) and friends of the University at a Cocktail Function where the award winners were announced.
Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson payed tribute to Philippa Maddern’s dedication to improving pedagogy at UWA and praised the outstanding example that she set for all those who shared her passion for the positive influence of education.
He reminded us:
- That the mission of a University is not to be a refuge from intellectual challenge but a place where the capacity to meet those challenges is developed in an imaginative, constructive and productive way, and that Philippa had challenged students and colleagues to foster development of the mind with a passion that assured them they were engaged in a vital mission.
- That Philippa’s influence was not a saccharine type; whilst she was known for her many selfless acts in the service of students and the university.she was quick to rebut academic nonsense (and other kinds of witlessness) and she cared without pandering or condescending.
- That Philippa believed academic life was communal and entailed obligations and advocacy. It is entirely characteristic that she was instrumental in establishing UWA’s Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.
Nominations for the 2017 Awards will be announced in 2016.
For more information and nomination criteria see www.uwaasa.com