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Lumen Winter 2016 Issue
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A legacy of support for women and music

Doris West scholarship recipient Caitlin Eyre

Doris West scholarship recipient Caitlin Eyre
Since 1992, one generous bequest has supported more than 20 female students and ensured a long life for the much-treasured Elder Conservatorium lunchtime concert series.

Doris West’s lifelong interest in education and a close connection to the University of Adelaide led her to remember the University in her will. At the time of her death in 1990, her uncle, the late mathematician Professor Ren Potts, said that her intentions hadn’t been known by the family and the sizeable bequest came as a surprise.

What her relatives did know was that she would have been proud to continue supporting other women in reaching their full potential through education – something which she valued highly throughout her life.

Through the establishment of the Doris West postgraduate scholarships, her legacy has given opportunities to high-achieving female students across all disciplines.

The 2012 recipient, Caitlin Eyre, is currently in Berlin where she is pursuing her passion for the arts and has just landed a role as an editorial intern at Berlin Art Link — an online magazine focusing on artists and exhibitions in Berlin. An emerging art curator and writer, Caitlin was enchanted by museums and galleries as a child, leading her to pursue a career in the arts.

Graduating from the University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2010 and a Graduate Diploma in Art History in 2011, Caitlin was able to continue her studies with the support of the scholarship, going on to gain a Master of Arts (Art History) in 2012 and a Master of Arts (Curatorial and Museum Studies) in 2013.

“The scholarship helped me to move towards achieving my career goals by allowing me to lay strong practical foundations in the industry during my postgraduate student years,” says Caitlin.

“Being relieved of financial burden as a student meant that I was able to undertake two invaluable internships during the course of my studies – experiences that I believe have shaped me as a curator.”

Undertaking a month-long curatorial internship at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Caitlin was able to build on the experience she gained as a volunteer at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Even though this internship fulfilled Caitlin’s Masters obligations, she was still hungry for more experience. The scholarship enabled her to undertake a second internship at JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design in Adelaide during the second year of her Masters studies and led to employment as an assistant curator at the centre.

Caitlin says that she wishes she could thank the generous benefactor whose support has given her the freedom to wholeheartedly pursue her passion for art.

“If I could pass on a message of appreciation to Doris, I would tell her that her generosity has had a profound impact on helping me to achieve the things I want from life,” she says.

“I have always valued education and I really appreciate that Doris’ generous contribution has allowed me to pursue my education without the burden of financial barriers.”

Doris West with her husband Arnold

Doris West with her husband Arnold
Relatives say that as a child, Dorrie — as she was known — always had her nose in a book and it was this love of learning that led her to pursue a university education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1921, going on to teach at Adelaide High School and later devoting her life to volunteering for various women’s associations. She had been proud of obtaining her degree, telling family how difficult it had been for her, as a woman, to complete her studies.

She was an active member of the YWCA and chaired the building committee responsible for the construction of the Pennington Terrace headquarters, and also served at various times as acting president of the board and as a regional committee member. She was made a life member of the Adelaide Lyceum Club, holding the president’s post from 1957-59.

During the 1940s Dorrie was elected president of what today is known as the Australian Federation of University Women and remained an active member of the organisation until ill health forced her resignation in the late 1970s.

As a keen music lover and regular attendee at the Elder Conservatorium’s concerts, Dorrie’s gift to the University has also helped to support the popular lunch-time concert series – treasured weekly by many thousands across the years. Her generous legacy will ensure the continued accessibility of these concerts and enable more women like Caitlin to take advantage of the educational opportunities Dorrie valued so highly.

Inspired by her educational and career experiences, Caitlin is intent on undertaking a PhD in Art History and is excited by the prospect of continuing her education in the field.

“I continue to be awed and eternally thankful that one person’s generosity of spirit can have such a profound impact on the lives of the people their generosity touches.”

For further information about bequests or to arrange a confidential discussion visit or contact Sue Fox on +61 8 8313 3234 or email

Elder Conservatorium lunchtime concerts
The Elder Conservatorium has been the heart of musical culture in Adelaide for over 130 years. The conservatorium’s lunchtime concert series has been supported in part by an annual contribution from the Doris West bequest.

This support helps keep admission prices for the concerts to a minimum and maintains the extraordinary quality of artists and concerts. The popularity and prestige of this series plays a vital role in representing the University of Adelaide to the wider community.

Throughout each year, visiting Australian and international artists perform as part of the series and some provide masterclasses and workshops for students. In previous years there have been dedicated performances for the Come Out Youth Arts Festival in May which has seen over 1000 school children attend orchestral performances in Elder Hall.

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Story by Genevieve Sanchez


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