This week, the Flinders University community suffered a tragic loss with the passing of Dr. Clare McCarty.
Clare came to Flinders University after a lifetime of teaching and advocacy. Clare had unprecedented respect from the entire University, from all her students in lectures and classrooms, right up to the University’s senior management and everybody in between. The respect from management is very telling given Clare was well renowned for her dedication to social justice and equality and could come into conflict with senior Flinders staff. A legacy of almost four years on University Council tells of how she stood up for Flinders University staff and students.
She was well known in union ranks and taught her students the importance of basic rights. A lifetime of work for the Australian Education Union brought grand change and reform. More locally, it was through Clare that my vision for an Education Association at Flinders became a reality. Empowering students with their own thoughts and voice was at the core of her pedagogical approach. It was through this approach that her students were inspired to think critically and believe in themselves. This is a characteristic that can be rarely found so strong amongst academics.
Flinders students studying any course in Education are likely to have come across Clare and her passion. As Director of First Year Studies, she was known for retaining students that were on the verge of leaving their studies. This was through her extensive experience, humorous stories and her fundamental understanding of what it was like to be a university student in the 21st century. The social media reaction to the news has highlighted the impact and influence she had on the thousands of students she taught over the years. Stories continue to surface on the impact Clare had on her students and how she changed their lives forever. This was symbolic of Clare’s driving force that education needs to be as fair and accessible for everybody in society.
The news has been received with heavy hearts around the campus. Clare defined the quintessence of being an educator. The comprehensive influence she had on Flinders students will see her legacy live on through the years. While this news is undeniably tragic, it also gives the opportunity to celebrate the life of a phenomenal woman. A phenomenal activist. A phenomenal teacher.
Words by Caleb Pattinson.