Honorary doctorates awarded at graduation

uncle-lewisFlinders University marked the contributions of two remarkable South Australians to Flinders and the Australian community with the award of honorary doctorates to Professor Faith Trent and Uncle Lewis O’Brien at its December graduations.

The doctorates were awarded at the graduation ceremonies at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Thursday December 15. Uncle Lewis O’Brien is shown receiving his parchment from Flinders Chancellor Mr Stephen Gerlach  [picture courtesy Georges France Photography].

As an academic and educational leader, Professor Faith Trent has had a long and distinguished career.

Born in Sydney to refugee parents, she taught secondary science before moving into education-related positions in tertiary institutions interstate and overseas. She was Dean of Sturt College of the South Australian College of Advanced Education when it became part of Flinders in 1991. She then held senior posts at Flinders, heading the Faculty of Education, Humanities, Law and Theology from 1997 to 2010.

Professor Trent has served on many State and Federal bodies connected with education.

She has published influential research in areas such as the education of boys, the impact of technology on learning, teaching in multicultural Australia, the Australian Bachelor of Arts degree and problem-based learning. She has also undertaken a range of Australian and international consultancies in higher education and contributed to dramatically expanded opportunities for the delivery of Flinders courses domestically and off-shore.

She received an Order of Australia in 2003, and in 2010 was awarded the MacKillop Medal from the SA chapter of the Australian College of Education.

Kuarna elder Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien was born at Point Pearce mission on Yorke Peninsula in 1930. Despite a childhood spent in care, he gained his Intermediate Certificate in 1946 and won an apprenticeship as a fitter and machinist, later joining the merchant navy.

As an Elder, Uncle Lewis has provided three decades of cultural and pastoral support to Aboriginal children, families and inmates. He has also made substantial contributions to scholarly and creative domains, particularly in maintaining Kaurna language and culture. His political and community contributions range from Aboriginal Advancement League involvement in the 1960s to leading organisations and committees concerned with heritage, arts, sport, reconciliation and all levels of education.

At Flinders, his activities have included being an Elder on the Indigenous Health Professional Education Advisory Committee, as Patron/Elder-in-Residence to the Indigenous Preparation for Medicine Program and reviews of Flinders University Centres. He has provided valuable input to non-Indigenous students of the Faculty of Health Sciences grappling to connect Aboriginal experience and health outcomes, and has contributed to curriculum and teaching within Yunggorendi First Nations Centre for Higher Education and Research.

Congratulating the two recipients, Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber  said that Professor Trent and Uncle Lewis O’Brien had invested enormous energy in service to their communities and the numerous organisations in which they have been involved.

“Flinders is grateful to have shared in the benefits of their wisdom and dedication, and we are proud to acknowledge their efforts with the University’s most prestigious award.”

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