VC’s Update – Travelling in India and Indonesia & more

2 June 2017

Hello everyone

I write today's blog from Bengaluru, India. Over the past few days I have been visiting cities in Indonesia and India to meet with our alumni and key institutions to promote research and educational ties between Australia and these two countries.

One of the best parts of being Vice-Chancellor is meeting with our international alumni and hearing their stories after graduating from ANU. These alumni events always remind me that no matter where you end up in the world, you will always be part of the ANU community. Our Indonesian alumni were especially enthusiastic, and I was impressed with the amazing array of jobs they had both within the Indonesian Government, and outside. It was a particular honour to have former Indonesian Vice-President - and former research assistant in the ANU Indonesia Project in the early 1970s - Boediono attend one of our events in Jakarta.

Despite not being in the country, it's been great to hear about the activities that have been happening this week as part of Reconciliation Week. On Monday Anne Martin from the Tjabal Centre took a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to ABC's Q&A program at Parliament House. What a great opportunity for these young students, our next generation of leaders, to be in the midst of the discussion and challenges around the recognition debate. The next steps on our journey to reconciliation are far from straightforward but if we genuinely want to help end the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians we need to start by listening. We need to ask Indigenous Australians what they need and we need to work with Indigenous communities to ensure we are helping deliver the changes they want. My hope is ANU can be a big part of the efforts that lie ahead.

A number of congratulations are in order for several of our ANU staff. Associate Professor Colin Jackson is the recipient of a $420,000 ARC Linkage Project which will aim to advance our understanding of heparanase, an enzyme which may reveal new pathways to treat diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Associate Professor Peter Brown has been made an Officer in the French Order of the Academic Palms for his contribution to French Cultural Studies over his career. Well done Colin and Peter.

ANU, along with other GO8 universities, will soon benefit from a new $200 million investment agreement with London-listed IP Group Plc. This investment - focusing on digital medicine, medical therapies and quantum computing - will support ANU over the next 10 years to enhance our ability to commercialise new innovations and solve some of the great problems facing the world. Congratulations to everyone who worked to finalise this agreement.

Our new Dean of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Rae Frances, starts at ANU next week. Rae, an esteemed historian and member of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, was most recently Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Monash University. She will replace interim Dean Professor Paul Pickering, who is returning to his role as Director of the ANU Research School of Humanities and the Arts. I'd like to personally thank Paul for leading the College, and for being a great colleague and friend in my first 18 months as Vice Chancellor.

Many of you will dismayed by the announcement made today that the USA will be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. Two of our researchers, Luke Kemp and Frank Jotzo, made news in the Washington Post saying that it might be best to have the US outside the tent if they were not going to be supportive of acting on climate change. My view is this is a long game, the US will re-engage in the not-too-distant future, and we should not let a few trumps in the road stop progress across the world.

Finally, I'd like to wish all our students best of luck with their upcoming exams. I realise this is a stressful time for you but I hope you can try to take some time out beforehand to relax.

Brian

Comments

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Comment by Karin Geiselhart
10am 5 Jun 2017

The long game requires full divestment from all fossil fuel investments or the ANU will lose the longest game.

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Comment by Alex Bowen
10am 5 Jun 2017

How is climate change a long game? The Great Barrier Reef is 50% dead.

ANU's long game seems to include giving fossil fuels a second chance long after their use-by date. ANU has reversed its previous, principled, position and reinvested in Santos, a company which plans for 4 degrees warming, totally inconsistent with Paris.

ANU also invests in Aurizon, who want over $1 bn of taxpayers' money to build a railway to the proposed Adani Carmichael mine and others - which could single handedly ensure the reef has no future.

This is at odds with the forward thinking of ANU researchers. How much dead reef is acceptable as part of the 'long game'?