Pro-Chancellor, Mrs Dorothy Hoddinott AO, Dr Anne Summers AO, Professor Annamarie Jagose, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Honour for acclaimed author and alumna Anne Summers

3 May 2017

Dr Anne Summers AO, a best-selling author and voice for generations of women, has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney.

Pro-Chancellor, Mrs Dorothy Hoddinott AO presents a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) to Dr Anne Summers Ao.

Dr Anne Summers AO receiving a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from Pro-Chancellor Mrs Dorothy Hoddinott AO at a May 3 graduation ceremony. 

Dr Anne Summers AO has been awarded a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) in recognition of her distinguished and storied contributions to national affairs.

“It is fantastic to see Dr Summers recognised in this way. In addition to forging her own idiosyncratically brilliant career, Dr Summers continues to provide remarkable and enduring leadership for generations of Australian women,” said Professor Annamarie Jagose, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

“Whether in politics, media, business or NGOs, her work has always been underpinned by a commitment to challenge and change. The University is delighted to honour such outstanding impact,” added Professor Jagose.

Dr Summers was conferred with a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) at a graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

“I congratulate Dr Summers on this honour to recognise her remarkable leadership for Australian women,” said Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney.

“Dr Summers has influenced many aspects of society, voicing crucial issues for women and girls and informing change during an outstanding career. She represents the very best of a Sydney graduate – challenging the world and improving it throughout her lifetime.”

Dr Summers graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Adelaide in 1970 and a year prior was amongst the co-founders of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Australia – after which she was involved in the founding of the nation’s first women’s and children’s domestic violence refuge.

In the 1970s, Dr Summers became a journalist at the National Times and Australian Financial Review, winning a 1976 Walkley award for an investigation of NSW prisons.

Dr Summers represents the very best of a Sydney graduate – challenging the world and improving it throughout her lifetime.
Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence

At the end of that decade, Dr Summers received a PhD at the University of Sydney for her landmark study of the history of women in Australia, Damned Whores and God’s Police. The acclaimed and bestselling book was updated in 1994 and 2002 and stayed in print until 2008. A new edition was published on International Women’s Day in 2016.

Her career includes roles as adviser on women to the governments of prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating respectively, chair of the Greenpeace Australia board, and deputy president of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

An author of numerous best-selling books, Dr Summers has published the eponymous digital magazine Anne Summers Reports and continues to write regular commentary for the Sydney Morning Herald.

In 1989, she was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for her services to journalism and to women, and in 2011, was honoured on a postage stamp.

During the occasional address to graduands in the Great Hall, Dr Summers urged them to embrace the future with ‘enthusiasm and optimism’.

“We need to be open to ideas and opportunities that might lure us away from what we thought was our destiny,” she said.

“My life certainly did not follow a predicable path and for many of you who are graduating today the same will be true.”

Dr Summers added: “You need not be bound by convention or tradition or anyone’s expectations – including your own.  All you need is to believe in yourself. Work hard. Be bold. Have fun.”

Luke O'Neill

Media and Public Relations Adviser (Humanities and Social Sciences)

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