The University honours Australia’s first Aboriginal university graduate

September 15 / 167

Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis, Chairperson Lowitja Institute Pat Anderson, Dr Margaret Williams-Weir’s niece Melissa Williams, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Ian Anderson and Dean of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education Professor Field Rickards. Marcel Aucar Photography.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis, Chairperson Lowitja Institute Pat Anderson, Dr Margaret Williams-Weir’s niece Melissa Williams, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Ian Anderson and Dean of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education Professor Field Rickards. Marcel Aucar Photography.

 

The University is celebrating the achievements of alumna and Aboriginal advocate Dr Margaret Williams-Weir with the naming of a prestigious fellowship and a valued student space in her honour.

 

Dr Williams-Weir is a member of the Malera/Bandjalang people of northern New South Wales.  She is the first recorded Aboriginal person to enrol in a university course in Australia, the first Aboriginal graduate of the University of Melbourne and the first Aboriginal graduate of any Australian university.

 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis announced that a new fellowship would be created from 2015 to honour the historic contributions of Dr Williams-Weir.

 

“I’m pleased to announce that respected Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson will be the inaugural Dr Margaret Williams-Weir Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow of the University of Melbourne,” Professor Davis said. 

 

Professor Davis also announced the naming of the postgraduate students’ lounge in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education as the ‘Dr Margaret Williams-Weir Lounge’.

 

“The University community is delighted to honour the life, community involvement and considerable achievements of Dr Williams-Weir,” Professor Davis said.

 

In 1959, Dr Williams-Weir became the first recorded Aboriginal graduate in Australia, completing a Diploma in Physical Education from the University of Melbourne.  She went on to complete three more degrees, including a PhD.

 

“Dr Williams-Weir is a role model for the kind of ambition we seek to inspire in our students,” said Professor Davis.

 

Dr Williams-Weir’s niece Melissa Williams said the celebrations had touched her aunt.

 

“Aunty Margo is very pleased the University is naming the fellowship and the postgraduate student lounge in her honour.  The whole family is touched by this tribute. 

 

“We are proud to know that a space in her name will be utilised by students following in her footprints.  It is a lasting symbol of her role as an educator – her enduring concern is for future generations,” Ms Williams said.

 

Dr Williams-Weir has had a diverse career spanning 47 years including research and teaching in Australia and overseas.  Throughout her career Dr Williams-Weir has been a passionate advocate for Aboriginal rights and participation.  

 

Story by Sophie Marcard   

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