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ECU celebrates 260 years worth of anniversaries

Monday, 01 August 2011


Edith Cowan University (ECU) is today beginning celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the birthday of its namesake Edith Dircksey Cowan, the 90th anniversary of her election to the Parliament of Western Australia, and the 20th anniversary of it becoming a university.

ECU is kicking off the celebrations by today marking Edith Cowan’s birth on 2 August 1861 with the Faculty of Business and Law hosting an event featuring three inspirational female West Australians.

Paralympic world champion swimmer Priya Cooper OAM, ECU MBA graduate Michelle Slater and ECU Bachelor of Law/Arts student Nella Watson-Lowe will address more than 100 secondary school students and their teachers.

The leaders will talk about the importance of following your dreams and will share their motivations and strategies to succeed in their chosen field.

In the case of Ms Watson-Lowe, her decision to study at ECU was inspired by the University’s connection to Edith Cowan.

“I chose ECU because of the significance of the lady behind the name Edith Cowan. I have grown up with a strong sense of social justice and have always had strong female role models in my family,” Ms Watson-Lowe said.

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Kerry Cox said Edith Cowan’s legacy was a great inspiration over many decades and was continuing to inspire a new generation of West Australians.

“Edith Cowan fought tirelessly to improve conditions for women, children, families, the poor, the under-educated and the elderly. Among her achievements, she helped to secure women the vote, worked to set up the precursor to the Children’s Court and, as the first woman to be elected to an Australian Parliament, helped pass the Women’s Legal Status Bill in 1923 which opened the legal and other professions to women for the first time.

“By celebrating the milestones of her life – and the milestones of the University – we acknowledge the enormous social, educational and economic advances that have occurred thanks to the work of people like Edith Cowan.

“Hopefully it will encourage the next generation to apply their knowledge and enthusiasm to solving the problems of today, ranging from the environment to the growing gap between rich and poor.”

It was also 20 years ago this year that ECU commenced as a university, emerging from the well-regarded WA Colleges of Advanced Education (WACAE) and integrating with the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).

In just two decades the University has more than doubled its student population to 25,000 and gained international recognition for its research into cyber-bullying, child literacy, Alzheimer’s disease, environmental science, photonics and many other areas.

The University will continue to celebrate the 150th, 90th and 20th anniversaries throughout this year, with the Vice-Chancellor’s Top 100 students event in September, the Vice-Chancellor’s Staff and Student Awards in October, and a book celebrating the first 20 years of ECU released in late August.

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