Great Court carving announced as UQ confers honours

The Great Court cloisters, The University of Queensland.
The Great Court cloisters, The University of Queensland.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains the name and image of a deceased person.

The first Australian Indigenous woman to complete a university degree, Dr Margaret Valadian AO MBE , has been posthumously honoured with an Honorary Doctorate from The University of Queensland.

Respected philanthropist Tim Fairfax AC and senior public servant Peter Harris AO have also received honorary awards in UQ’s 2024 mid-year graduation ceremonies.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry AC said the University would also record the late Dr Valadian’s remarkable contribution with a carving in UQ’s Great Court.

"Dr Valadian was an Indigenous academic, educator and advocate for Indigenous rights, and the University was privileged to count her among our alumni community," Professor Terry said.

After graduating from UQ with a Bachelor of Social Studies in 1966, Dr Valadian dedicated her life to academic and professional pursuits, advocating for Indigenous education and promoting educational access for people in rural communities.

Appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for service to Aboriginal welfare in 1976 and an Officer of the Order of Australia a decade later, Dr Valadian was UQ ’s Alumnus of the Year in 1996.

University Sculptor Dr Rhyl Hinwood will complete the carving in the Great Court, in a tradition dating back to 1939.

Professor Terry said the three Honorary Doctorate recipients were incredibly deserving of the university’s highest honour.

"This honour recognises outstanding individuals, who over the course of their careers and personal lives, have made unique and lasting contributions to the community," Professor Terry said.

"Dr Valadian, Mr Fairfax and Mr Harris have all positively impacted society through their various endeavours."

Mr Fairfax is a leader of Australia’s philanthropic community and a passionate advocate for home-grown philanthropy.

He currently serves as President of the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation, Founder and Chair of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation and is also a former Chancellor of the Queensland University of Technology.

Mr Harris completed a Bachelor of Economics at UQ and over the course of the following 4 decades served in leadership roles in both the Federal and Victorian public services.

As Chairman of the Productivity Commission from 2013 to 2018, Mr Harris applied his policy experience and deep understanding of the Australian economy to produce the Shifting the Dial report which detailed a set of recommendations for lifting national productivity.

He has left a lasting and beneficial legacy for the Australian economy and community.

Image above left: Dr Margaret Valadian accepting the UQ Alumnus of the Year award in 1996.