19 December 2000

Triple Olympian Kieren Perkins OAM will receive an honorary degree, and be guest speaker at a University of Queensland graduation ceremony on Wednesday, December 20.

Mr Perkins will receive a Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa for his outstanding contribution to sport in Australia, at the 4pm ceremony at Mayne Hall, St Lucia.

The ceremony for Arts and Music graduates is the last of 17 graduation ceremonies to be held by The University of Queensland this month.

Kieren Perkins' 11-year career has included two gold and two silver Olympic medals and 11 world records - two of which, for the 1500m and 800m freestyle long course, still stand.

He is the first swimmer to hold simultaneous Olympic, World, Commonwealth and Pan Pacific titles; and he is the first Australian male since Jon Konrads in 1960 to hold three world records at once. He currently holds three World records, two Commonwealth records and five Australian records.

Mr Perkins is the first Australian (and only the second person) to have won gold for the men's 1500m freestyle event at two consecutive Olympic Games - Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. He also won silver for the 400m in Barcelona and for the 1500m in Sydney in 2000. He is the first swimmer in Commonwealth history to have won the men's 200m, 400m and 1500 freestyle treble at the Commonwealth Games.

o Valedictorian and Arts honours graduand Desmond Tramacchi (telephone 07 3844 9190) completed his honours thesis on the quasi religious aspects of psychedelic dance parties, especially raves and doffs (dance parties in the bush). He looked at the ritual components of dance parties and found broad parallels with dance rituals which used substances, in other cultures. Mr Tramacchi, whose research was supervised by Associate Professor Richard Hutch of the Studies in Religion Department, said the parties mitigated against alienation and provided a sense of community. The use of psycho-active substances provided symbols for community, he said. Mr Tramacchi received the Dean's Commendation for High Achievement in 1998 and 1999, and majored in both Anthropology and Studies in Religion. He will undertake a PhD next year on substance use and psychedelic cultures, supervised by Dr Lynne Hume.

o Sheela Mrithunjayan (telephone 3876 8568) will graduate with first class honours after coming from Singapore to study German at The University of Queensland. She was awarded a Singaporean Government scholarship as one of five Singaporean teachers (out of 500 applicants) to specialise in learning German to teach as a foreign language. She began her studies six years ago, studying part time in Singapore and part time in Germany. After gaining a Diploma in German, Ms Mrithunjayan completed her undergraduate degree at UQ in 1999, followed by an Honours degree this year. She plans to undertake a PhD through external study, on her return to Singapore at the end of the year.

Media: Further information, contact Peter McCutcheon at UQ Communications 0413 380 012 or email: communications@mailbox.uq.edu.au.