‘Man behind the Museums’ honoured at Graduation

Published 12 October 2010

pat_wattersThe man who served, over four decades, as curator of two outstanding museums at the University of New England was honoured during a UNE graduation ceremony at the weekend.

The Chancellor of UNE, Dr Richard Torbay, presented Dr Patrick (Pat) Watters with the award of Distinguished Graduate Fellow of the University before presenting testamurs to 160 people graduating with degrees and awards from within UNE’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Speaking to an audience of about 800 people at the ceremony on Saturday 9 October, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, outlined Dr Watters’s work  in enriching and expanding the University’s Zoology Museum and Museum of Antiquities.

Dr Watters gained a PhD degree from UNE in 1970 while employed in the University’s Department of Zoology. “Appointed as Curator of the Zoology Museum, Dr Watters enriched the Museum by developing an international network of museum staffs that enabled the exchange of specimens previously unavailable to museum users,” Professor Barber said. “His reputation led to visits to more than 140 museums in 31 countries, and invitations – through the Australian Universities and Colleges International Development Program – to consult on the development of museums in departments of biology at universities in Thailand and The Philippines.”

“In his own New England region he made significant contributions to the Emmaville Mining Museum, the Hunter River Lancers and 24th Light Horse Memorial Museum, the Armidale Folk Museum, and McCrossin’s Mill Museum in Uralla,” Professor Barber continued. “When ill health forced him to retire from teaching in UNE’s Department of Zoology in 1988 he continued to oversee the Zoology Museum until 2007 as Honorary Curator.”

Dr Watters was invited to join the committee of UNE’s Museum of Antiquities in 1981, and took on the role of the Museum’s Honorary Curator in 1984. He continued in this position until 2009. Professor Barber said that the Museum’s collection, mounted in “purpose-built displays designed and largely constructed by Dr Watters”, had become “a prized cultural resource for the entire northern region of NSW”, and had “attracted researchers from other Australian universities and from overseas”.

“While the countless hours of Dr Watters’s dedicated, selfless service behind the scenes across four decades may pass unnoticed except by those closest to him,” Professor Barber concluded, “the fruits of his contributions are – literally – ‘there for all to see’.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Dr Pat Watters in UNE’s Museum of Antiquities. Clicking on this image reveals a photograph of Dr Watters after the graduation ceremony on Saturday with Professor Jim Barber (left) and Dr Richard Torbay.