The achievements of two extraordinary alumni were celebrated last Thursday night at the University of Tasmania’s gala dinner held at Wrest Point Casino.
Distinguished guests, University of Tasmania staff, scholarship recipients, alumni, donors and members of the community gathered at the black-tie affair that was attended by nearly 350 people.
Chancellor of the University of Tasmania, the Honourable Michael Field AC, conferred the University’s first Benefactor’s Robes on Dr David Warren for his incredible philanthropy and long-term support of the University.
“To be the inaugural recipient of this position is certainly a very happy and satisfying event,” Dr Warren said.
Last year the inventor and philanthropist made the largest single private donation in the institution’s history, which has established a $5 million Endowed Chair in the field of astrophysics, bearing his name.
“Dr Warren has been a long-term supporter of the Greenhill Observatory, a generous scholarship donor, remains actively engaged with the School of Science, Engineering and Technology, and is a primary sponsor of the engineering students’ racing car,” Director of Advancement Young Dawkins told the audience.
“His engagement with the University of Tasmania speaks to a genuine commitment of both time and resources, for which the University is deeply grateful.”
The career of trailblazing human rights lawyer, academic and humanitarian Dr Alice Edwards was recognised through the presentation of the Foundation Graduate Award, which is presented to an alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions to society and demonstrated exceptional professional achievement.
Since graduating from the University with a Bachelor of Arts and Laws with Honours in Law in 1997, Dr Edwards has carved out an illustrious career, both in academia and professionally.
She has successfully led cases to protect the rights of millions of refugees during the world’s greatest refugee crisis, created mechanisms to rescue the thousands of trafficked women and girls in the Balkans, and initiated and galvanised support for the United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) global strategy to end the detention of asylum seekers.
Dr Edwards is currently the Head of the Secretariat for the Convention Against Torture Initiative (CTI), in Geneva, Switzerland – an initiative dedicated to achieving the universal ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
A major part of her career has been dedicated to working at the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), including working for five years as its Chief of Protection Policy and Legal Advice.
“It is a great honour to receive this award,” Dr Edwards said.
“The University of Tasmania means a lot to me, and whenever I’m introduced as being from Tasmania I always acknowledge that my first degree was from the University of Tasmania.”
Dr Edwards said the award had given her a ‘‘real boost’’.
“It came at a very good time, when the world is in turmoil and the work that I do is more and more difficult, so it really was extremely special,” she said.
In addition to presenting and toasting the 2017 southern scholarship students, the dinner also recognised the individuals and organisations who had contributed towards University scholarships and bursaries over the last twelve months.
The night concluded on a high note with a speech from Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen, in one of his final addresses to the University community, sharing his excitement for the future of the University amidst a time of incredible transformation and promise.