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.org.au