La Trobe awards outstanding individuals

A member of La Trobe University’s founding cohort and celebrated political speechwriter, Don Watson, and children’s media pioneer, Patricia Edgar AM, will be awarded prestigious Honorary Doctorates this week at La Trobe University

Following the conferral of an Honorary Doctorate to philanthropist, singer, songwriter and actor Olivia Newton-John AO OBE on Monday 14 May, Honorary Doctorates were conferred to award-winning author, screenwriter and political speechwriter Don Watson (16 May) and to leading international children’s media expert, Patricia Edgar AM (17 May).

The Honorary Doctorates were awarded during La Trobe’s May student graduation ceremonies, and each recipient was also a guest speaker, addressing the graduating class.

More than 1,000 La Trobe students have graduated in May across six ceremonies, joined by around 2,800 friends and families.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar commended the recipients on their significant contribution to society.

“This week we are conferring our most prestigious Honorary degrees to three remarkable Australians,” Professor Dewar said.

“Olivia Newton-John, Don Watson and Patricia Edgar are all exceptional leaders in their respective fields and therefore it is fitting that they receive these Doctor of Letters.”

Don Watson and Patricia Edgar AM have been awarded the Doctor of Letters (honoris causa).

Don Watson has made an outstanding contribution to Australian politics, history and literature. Dr Watson is best known for his award-winning novels and essays on Australian history, screenplays for feature films and speeches for Australian politicians. In 1992, Dr Watson became Prime Minister Paul Keating’s speechwriter and advisor, later penning a bestselling account of those years in Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM.

Dr Watson was born in Warragul and grew up on his family’s dairy farm near Poowong. He was among the founding cohort of students to join La Trobe when it first opened, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History (Honours).

Patricia Edgar AM has dedicated her life to the development of media for children and media education. Dr Edgar founded and became the inaugural head of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. In the over 20 years she spent in this role, she produced well-loved television dramas for children of all ages, including programs such as Round the Twist, Lift Off, The Genie From Down Under, Sky Trackers, Crash Zone and Kahootz.

Dr Edgar has strong ties to La Trobe as a former PhD student and first Chairperson of La Trobe’s Centre for the Study of Educational Media and Communication. In this role, Dr Edgar established and taught the first courses on film and television in an Australian university.

Olivia Newton-John AO OBE is a world renowned singer, songwriter and actor. Dr Newton-John received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from La Trobe on Monday 14 May in recognition of her significant and ongoing support of cancer research and holistic health, as well as her outstanding achievements in the entertainment industry.

Media Contact Claire Bowers, Media Manager, La Trobe University: c.bowers@latrobe.edu.au – 9479 2315 / 0437279903

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