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Distinguished individuals receive Honorary Doctorates from UC

Andy Visser

22 October 2020: From a political correspondent to highly-skilled medical professionals, this year’s University of Canberra Honorary Doctorate recipients showcase the vibrancy, diversity and distinction of the University through their contributions to Canberra, their fields of expertise, Australia and the world.

“This has been a year like no other, and will certainly go down in the record books as exceptional, but what has been highlighted in this time is our resilience to adapt to our circumstances and still find a way to celebrate and honour our colleagues, graduates and in this case, our Honorary Doctorate recipients,” said Professor Tom Calma AO, Chancellor of the University of Canberra.

University of Canberra Honorary Doctorates were conferred on Ms Karen Middleton, Professor Paul Smith AM, Dr Warren McDonald and Ms Mary Kirk AM.

“While all formal University graduation events were cancelled this year, it was fitting to honour and confer the University’s Honorary Doctorates on these deserving recipients with their families in attendance, at appropriate occasions befitting of this time,” said Professor Calma.

Ms Karen Middleton

Intrepid, tenacious and driven by a strong social conscience, prominent political journalist Karen Middleton has spent more than 30 years reporting on national and international affairs for print and broadcast media. Ms Middleton is the Chief Political Correspondent for The Saturday Paper, a role she has held since 2016.

Karen graduated from the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now the University of Canberra) in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing.

Karen’s proximity to the events of 9/11 inspired her first book, An Unwinnable War: Australia in Afghanistan (2011), which laid out the political backstory to Australia’s involvement, in what became the nation’s longest military conflict. She followed this up in 2016 with a biography that revealed the personal story of Labor frontbencher – and now Opposition Leader – Anthony Albanese.

“It is for her outstanding career in journalism, and contributions from both within Australia and abroad, that Ms Middleton was awarded her Honorary Doctorate,” said Professor Calma.

Professor Paul Smith AM

Professor Paul Smith has been a leading figure in orthopaedic surgery in Australia, with particular impact in Canberra.

Professor Smith is the Director of Orthopaedic Surgery at The Canberra Hospital, where he specialises in orthopaedic and trauma surgery, primary and revision joint replacement, and surgery of the knee, hip and pelvis.

Professor Smith’s belief in evidence-based practice is demonstrated by his commitment to research and incorporating new evidence in his ongoing clinical practice. In the  clinical world, Professor Smith is one of Australia’s most experienced joint replacement surgeons and over the past 20 years has performed over 5,000 hip and knee replacement procedures.

Professor Smith is passionate about research, teaching and training, and improvements in equipment and techniques which translate to better outcomes for his patients.

In 2001, Professor Smith led the establishment of the ACT Bone Bank and the ACT Musculoskeletal and Orthopaedic Research Foundation. In his leadership roles as an orthopaedic surgeon, Director of Orthopaedic Surgery at The Canberra Hospital and ACT Chair of the Australian Orthopaedic Association, Professor Smith has been a powerful advocate for research across the wider health landscape, in particular supporting allied health and nursing higher degree by research (HDR) students.

“Professor Smith epitomises professionalism, which is evident in his rapport with his patients, colleagues and industry peers. He has led a distinguished career while contributing significantly to the field of orthopaedic surgery,” said Professor Calma.

Dr Warren McDonald

Throughout his career as a Sports and Exercise Physician, Dr Warren McDonald has worked with several esteemed organisations. He has been involved in professional rugby for over 20 years and has lectured at the University of Canberra throughout that time.

Dr McDonald began working at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 1990, working as a doctor for elite athletes preparing for international competitions. During his 11 years at the AIS, he worked and travelled with Australian senior and junior national teams, including basketball, water polo and swimming, to various international competitions, including world championships, and both the Atlanta and Sydney Olympic Games as team doctor.

Dr McDonald left the AIS after the 2000 Sydney Olympics to co-found Sports Physicians ACT in 2001, a private sports medicine clinic in Canberra, which he operated and directed for 19 years. In his roles at the AIS and in private practice, he was responsible for the teaching and mentoring of numerous registrars and other trainees in sports medicine.

Dr McDonald is a serving board member of the ACT Physical Activity Foundation, the World Rugby Medical Commission, and the SANZAAR Medical Commission and is Chair of the Oceania Rugby Medical and Injury Prevention Group.

“Dr McDonald has combined his love of teaching with this role as a physician. He is held in high esteem within the sport and rugby communities, and his contribution to the University has been exemplary,” said Professor Calma.

Ms Mary Kirk AM

As a dedicated, visionary and strategy-oriented advocate for women, children and the discipline of midwifery, Mary Kirk has been a leader in the field for over 40 years.

Ms Kirk is a longstanding champion of primary health care and support for mothers throughout their pregnancies, as well as after delivery, and has significantly impacted maternal health and family support in the Canberra region, nationally and internationally.

As a registered midwife with a strong grounding in clinical, management and education practice from local, national and international perspectives, Mary’s particular interest has been in midwifery’s contribution to primary health care through enabling environments for midwives.

This has been driven by her conviction that everyone has a right to work in an enabling environment and be actively supported to reach their full potential. Her commitment to see this outcome emanates from the knowledge that it is the right of women to receive high quality evidence-based maternity care, thereby creating an environment in which women feel strong and supported.

Throughout her career, Ms Kirk has worked tirelessly to mentor and steer the local, national, and global community of midwives to prioritise those elements of midwifery that make a difference to the health of girls, women and babies, especially in the areas of social disadvantage.

“It is fitting that in the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, that a distinguished member of the nursing fraternity has been acknowledged for her contribution to midwifery, nursing and community health  –  I couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient,” said Professor Calma.