VC's Update - Grand Challenges, Geoffrey Robertson and more

21 September 2018

I truly believe that our students, academics and the people who make this University great, will play a significant role in defining our future.  

Hi everyone, 

Great to be back in the thick of things after my short break. Thank you to Mike for keeping the seat warm in my absence! I enjoyed his reflections on his role from last week's blog post.

I am very sorry to hear of the recent passing of Emeritus Professor John Molony. Professor Molony was the founder of the ANU Emeritus Faculty. He was an incredible historian and a good friend of many at ANU. My condolences to his friends and family, he will be missed.

It was nice to see many of you this afternoon at Professor Margaret Harding's farewell drinks. Professor Harding has been incredibly influential in her role as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Innovation and Research) and whilst she might be leaving her campus, she leaves behind many great initiatives as her legacy at ANU.

One of those great initiatives is the highly popular ANU Grand Challenges Scheme. How fortunate that the 2018 final was battled out in Professor Harding's last week on the job. On Wednesday night we saw four amazing finalists present their ideas on; Humanising Machine Intelligence, Restoring Climate with Enhanced Earth Systems, Social Cohesion, Inclusion and Diversity, and Zero-Carbon energy for the Asia Pacific. Woah! I was blown away by these ambitious research proposals that could impact some of the world's most intractable problems.

And the winner is.... Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia Pacific.  Congratulations to the team for taking out first place, but also a huge congratulations and thank you to everyone involved in this year's event, including the 14 teams who submitted proposals.

This week I was also delighted to welcome Geoffrey Robertson QC to our campus to give us his thoughts on how to progress the rights of Indigenous Australians. Earlier this year Geoffrey was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia for "his distinguished service to the law and legal profession as an international human rights lawyer and advocate for global civil liberties...".  A passionate advocate for the rights of our First Nations Peoples, we had the opportunity to bring together Ministers, ANU Subject Matter Experts and Senior Influential media leaders on Thursday morning at Parliament House, to a robust conversation about the next steps to reconciliation. Then last night, more than 1,000 people attended Geoffrey's lecture at Llewellyn Hall. If you couldn't be there, I highly recommend carving out the time to watch the recording on ANU TV. Geoffrey brought humour, insight and passion to an incredibly complex topic.  

When I took the role of Vice Chancellor at ANU, I wanted to ensure that we led the charge as champions of change in reconciliation for our First Nations Peoples. I am incredibly proud of the work we have done this year both at the inaugural First Nations Forum and this week's events, in re-igniting debate and discussion on this incredibly important topic. My hope is that all universities across Australia join us in championing reconciliation and we can truly make a difference.

In fact, my hope is that ALL the work we are doing across the University is making a difference. You have inspired me this week, from Grand Challenge initiatives, robust conversations about gender diversity at my packed lunch staff forum and encouraging discussions about reconciliation. I truly believe that our students, academics and the people who make this University great, will play a significant role in defining our future.  

Oh, and one final note to all our staff... if we want to keep being a great University, we also need to look after our people. So far only 22 per cent of staff have completed the survey. I can't stress just how important it is to complete the Staff Engagement Survey, so please look for the email in your inbox and ensure you find the time in the next week to complete it. I'm looking forward to reading the results.  

Have a great weekend everyone.

Brian