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Honorary Doctorate for dedication to Western Australian communities

Media release

Professor Ellen Percy Kraly has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Curtin University, in recognition of her exceptional service to the Noongar people and Curtin University in the repatriation of the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artworks.

Professor Kraly is the William R Kenan Jr. Professor of Geography at Colgate University in New York, and her academic specialities include demography and population geography, international migration and refugees, as well as ethnic and racial studies.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry, said since the discovery of the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artworks at Colgate University in 2004, Professor Kraly had been a critical and influential force in their journey back to Western Australia.

“The artworks painted by Noongar children at the Carrolup River Native Settlement Camp in the Great Southern region were transported back to the Western Australia community after being discovered in storage at Colgate University.” Professor Terry said.

“Professor Kraly worked tirelessly to ensure the paintings were transferred from Colgate University to Curtin University. Curtin University is now custodian of a significant historical collection of 122 artworks from children of Australia’s Stolen Generations.

“The collection is an important part of the cultural heritage of Australia and their return ensured the ongoing conservation, preservation and presentation of the artworks for future generations.

“Without Professor Kraly’s foresight, action and generosity, the Collection may never have come home,” Professor Terry said.

“Professor Kraly was also responsible for initiating a student education program between Colgate University and Curtin’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies. Every other year she leads a cohort of Colgate students on a study tour to Western Australia to learn about the region’s Indigenous culture and heritage, including the histories related to the Carrolup artworks.”

Professor Terry said this had been a wonderful learning collaboration between Curtin University, Colgate University and the South West Noongar community during which time Curtin has had the opportunity to host 70 Colgate students and provide a rich cultural education to an international audience.

“Professor Kraly’s exceptional commitment has resulted in a legacy that we are able to conserve, preserve and share through education and research with future generations.”