Five-time ARIA Award winner Katie Noonan has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Griffith University, alongside fellow Griffith alumnus Peter Martin APM, a former Commissioner of Queensland Corrective Services.
First Peoples health advocate Dr Pat Anderson AO and renowned film sound artist James Currie also received honorary degrees this week, joining more than 5,500 graduating students at ceremonies in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The title of Doctor of the University (DUniv) was bestowed on Katie Noonan for her distinguished service to the arts as a singer, songwriter and artistic director.
She received her honorary doctorate at a ceremony at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre where she also treated the audience to a powerhouse performance of her hits Bluebird and Breathe In Now, accompanied by student musicians from the Queensland Conservatorium.
Since graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium in 1997, Ms Noonan’s versatility as a singer, musician, songwriter, producer and champion of the arts has seen her earn international recognition.
She became the youngest Artistic Director of the Queensland Music Festival and was also Musical Director for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018, performing to a television audience of more than a billion people.
This year, Ms Noonan launched AVÉ (Australian Vocal Ensemble), Australia’s first professional classical vocal quartet and an ensemble-in-residence at the Queensland Conservatorium. She was recently appointed Artistic Director of the 2022 National Folk Festival in Canberra.
Ms Noonan said receiving an honorary doctorate from Griffith University was an honour and recognised her ongoing connection to her alma mater.
“In the 26 years since I first set foot inside the Con, I have felt this sense of propulsion towards the remarkable, and an innate sense of purpose,” she said.
“Music is the cornerstone of life – a lifelong journey. With every day, every song and every gig, you learn something new.”
Former Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner Dr Peter Martin APM was humbled to be recognised by the University.
“I’ve worked in the public sector in government for the last four decades, including 38 years in policing and more recently in corrective services, and you don’t do that sort of work for accolades or acknowledgement,” he said.
Dr Martin was among the first group of Griffith University students to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Administration in the early 1990s. He returned to earn an Executive Masters in Public Administration through the Australian and New Zealand School of Government and Griffith University.
“This honorary doctorate is very special and means a lot to me,” he said.
“I am so fortunate to have had the support of Griffith throughout my career, the relationships that I’ve forged with Griffith have been long and productive.”
Indigenous health advocate Pat Anderson AO received an honorary doctorate for her distinguished service to First Nations communities as a social justice advocate. An Alyawarre woman from the Northern Territory, Ms Anderson has spent her career promoting improved health, and educational and protection outcomes for children.
“I’m very touched that Griffith would recognise me in this way,” she said.
“I grew up in a camp on the outskirts of Darwin and was the first in my family to attend university, so to be recognised by a place of learning is very special.
“Access to an education is a gift. And when you have that gift, you have an obligation to give back and make a positive contribution wherever you can.”
Sound recordist James Currie, who worked on iconic Australian films like Breaker Morant and Red Dog, was recognised for his work in the Australian screen industry, spanning almost 100 films and TV projects over the past four decades.
This year’s honorary doctorate recipients joined 5,586 graduating students at a dozen ceremonies in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.
This year’s graduating class included 178 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, the University’s largest ever group of First Nations graduates.
Griffith University Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans said the Class of 2021 had shown great resilience, persevering with their studies despite the upheavals of the COVID pandemic.
“We are so proud of all of our Griffith graduates,” Professor Evans said.
“We recognise the last two years have been some of the most challenging and to reach this milestone shows absolute commitment and hard work.
“We congratulate our Griffith graduates and extend our support as they face the future with confidence and skills to thrive in a rapidly changing world.”