Education

Donor breaks ties with University of Melbourne after ‘six white men’ awarded honorary doctorates | Melbourne

One of Australia’s largest philanthropic donors to medical analysis has suspended ties with the University of Melbourne after final week’s awarding of honorary doctorates to 6 white males.

The Snow Medical Research Foundation knowledgeable the University of Melbourne on Monday that it had suspended the establishment from its Snow Fellowship program, as its “outcomes on gender equality and diversity do not align with the values of Snow Medical”.

The nonprofit donated $24m to the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus and final 12 months granted two Snow Fellowships, totalling $16m, to the establishment.

“Unfortunately, last week the University of Melbourne awarded their most prestigious award, their honorary doctorate, to six white men,” Snow Medical stated in an announcement.

“Further, in the last three years, not a single honorary doctorate has been awarded to women or someone of non-white descent. This is unacceptable.”

The college awarded honorary doctorates to 2 males in 2020. Half of the six recipients in 2019 have been feminine, together with Pat Anderson, an Alyawarre lady and Indigenous well being advocate. No honorary doctorates have been conferred in 2021.

Honorary doctoral levels have been awarded on 28 February to Leigh Clifford, Prof Sir Peter Donnelly, Prof Allan Fels, Dr Francis Gurry, Dr Mark Schipp and Prof Colin Wilks.

The honorary doctorate, the college’s highest honour, was awarded to people “whose work has transformed our understanding of the world and the lives of many people”, stated University of Melbourne chancellor, Allan Myers, at a conferral ceremony final week.

The college press launch asserting the honorary doctorates was later amended so as to add an announcement about recipients who have been unable to attend the in-person ceremony.

“This list includes three women and an Indigenous man who were recognised for outstanding achievements in their fields of endeavour,” it stated. “These honorary doctorates will be conferred at a later date.”

Snow Medical stated it made the choice to droop the University of Melbourne from future fellowship functions after an “unsatisfactory” response “regarding why only men have been appointed with honorary doctorates over the last three years”.

“While it appears … policies on gender equality and diversity are in place, the outcomes do not align with the university’s stated goals,” it stated.

“This has been a difficult decision for our family, but a decision we have made very proudly,” stated Tom Snow, chair of the Snow Medical board, in a tweet. “NOW is the time for action on gender equality and diversity.”

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In an announcement on Tuesday, the University of Melbourne stated: “While we acknowledge the areas where we need to improve, Snow Medical has made their decision on the basis of a single honorary doctorate event. This event is not a true reflection of who we are as a university and the steps we are taking, and continue to take, to build a diverse university community, reflective of broader society.”

“We are in the process of finalising the university’s first gender equality action plan.”

“Since 2019 five of the six most recent senior leadership appointments within the University’s executive team are women. This includes the Provost, three Deans, and the first Deputy vice-chancellor (People and Community).”

The not-for-profit basis stated it could honour its dedication to present Snow Fellowships already awarded to University of Melbourne medical researchers.



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