Kim McKay AO

Honorary Doctor of Science

Citation delivered by Executive Dean, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, Senior Professor Eileen Mclaughlin at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of  as a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on 4 May 2022.

Vice-Chancellor and President, I present Kim Coral McKay ao.

Volunteerism, one of the most selfless acts that we can become involved in. As John F. Kennedy once said “Every person can make a difference, and every person should try”. It is with exceptional leadership, formidable spirit and social conscience that Kim has coordinated the collaborative efforts of millions of everyday citizens, inspiring them to preserve and protect our natural, social and cultural heritage at both a national and international level, in her daily role and as a volunteer.

As an author, public speaker, marketing and communications advisor, sustainability advocate, businesswomen and environmentalist, Kim has lead a life marked by a tenacious desire to educate, innovate and enlighten.

Kim’s Northern Beaches upbringing and education at Mackellar Girls High cultivated her undying passion for the environment and made her aware of the plight of mankind’s activities on the environment.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from UTS, Kim went on to create her worldwide reputation as an environmental crusader, entrepreneur and storytelling extraordinaire, personifying her mother’s words – ‘You get out of this world what you put into it’.

Her commitment to championing positive change began in 1989, as the co-founder of Australia’s highest profile and most enduring environmental campaign ever – Clean Up Australia, and later Clean Up the World. Thirty years on, Clean Up is a worldwide organisation and a trusted advisor, influencing Australian environmental laws operating in over 120 countries.

With an international career spanning over three decades and every continent, dominated by adventurous pursuits, Kim managed worldwide sporting events and worked as an Executive with the Discovery and National Geographic Channels in the USA. In these roles, Kim travelled the world, surrendering to an environmental pilgrimage in the name of conservation before returning to Australia in 2004.

Her dedication to the endurance of our stories to help define our present and inform our future, saw Kim placed at the helm of the Australian Museum in 2014, as the first female Director in the museum’s 192 year history. Kim has led it’s transformation as one of the world's most pre-eminent natural history and cultural institutions and has strived to create the museum Australia wants to see; innovation and relevancy in historical delivery and a truthful portrayal of Australia’s narrative. Her forward-thinking approach informs Kim’s latest strategy, which is to develop truth-telling across the Australian Museum, acknowledging the responsibility the institution holds in sharing a true Indigenous perspective. Kim has championed Citizen Science, establishing the Australian Museum Centre for Citizen Science with FrogID as its flagship program.

Kim’s career success, environmental advocacy and charitable work has not gone unrecognized.  Her exceptional service and leadership has been honoured through a number of prestigious awards and appointments. She was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2008 and some of her accolades include the Australian Geographic Lifetime Achievement Award in Conservation and the UTS Sydney Chancellor's Award for Excellence. She also serves and consults on a number of advisory boards including One Million Women, and in 2011 was named in the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence list, and featured in the book ‘The Power of 100...One Hundred Women who have Shaped Australia’. Kim was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 2021, and appointed to the UTS Council in 2022.

Vice-Chancellor and President, Kim’s life experience and legacy, as well as her passion, drive and tenacity are an inspiration to all of us. To our students, our community and all Indigenous Australians who are studying any degree, to become advocates and professional leaders in their fields despite the social limitations and expectations imposed on them. Irrespective of the role, the positive contributions of Kim have, and will continue to make, a significant impact for future generations. It is for these reasons and many more, that Kim is being honoured today.

It is a privilege to present Kim Coral McKay AO to be admitted as an Honorary Doctor of Science of the University of Wollongong.