Meet Peter Kanowski ... the new Master of House at University House.
What is your main role at University House?
The Master's role at University House is unique at ANU, and is stimulatingly varied. It includes being the public face of University House to visitors, members and guests; academic and pastoral oversight for the 250 student residents in University and Graduate Houses; budget and staff management for University House; and thinking both strategically and practically about how University House should evolve with the University and community.
What is your favourite spot on campus?
Fellows Garden at University House, of course! - on a sunny warm afternoon when it's time to enjoy an after-work drink with colleagues and friends.
You like it because...
It's a pleasant, convivial, leafy space with a good vibe. And because I appreciate a catch-up with friends over one of Fellows' good ales or wines at the end of the week.
If you were free for an afternoon, you would...
Enjoy the novelty! I'm always glad of the chance to spend a couple of hours at the National Gallery, including the afternoon light in the sculpture garden. And it's nice to have the chance for an afternoon run, as a change from frosty mornings.
Congratulations on being selected as the Master of House. What does it mean for you to be in this role?
Thanks. It's obviously a great honour and privilege -there have been fewer Masters than ANU Chancellors or Vice-Chancellors. In many respects, it builds on my experiences in the colleagiate environment of Oxford University, as both a graduate student member and a Fellow of colleges there. These were very formative, and I'm pleased to have the opportunity to capitalise on them at University and Graduate Houses.
What changes are on the horizon for University House, under your leadership?
Both continuity and change. The core reasons University House was established 60 years ago remain central to our purpose - namely, to welcome staff, students and vistors, and provide a convivial environment for them to meet and celebrate; and to be a window into the university for the community, and vice versa. So we plan to enhance the best of the distinctive character of University House, while continuing to adapt and evolve to the changing needs of staff, students, visitors and members, and the new ways we lead our lives. For example, we want to find new ways to capitalise on the creativity and energy of academic work and life, particularly that of graduate students and early career academics.
We understand you previously studied at ANU. What did you study, and was your connection to the University one of the reasons behind your decision to return?
I'm an ANU forestry honours graduate, both proud of my choice of profession and sad about its current state and that of forestry in this country. I was away from ANU for 14 years, 10 of them at Oxford, before I returned in 1995 as Professor of Forestry in what is now the Fenner School of Environment and Society. For the past two years, I've been on leave at an international forestry research centre in Indonesia. I returned and remain at ANU because it is and should remain a national institution of global distincton in an equally unique and livable city.
What do you enjoy most about working in your field?
Meeting and working with such a breadth of interesting and committed people - colleagues, students, alumni, members, visitors, guests - and the associated cultural and intellectual diversity, and non-parochialism. It's this bigger picture, and the constant challenging and renewal of ideas and initiatives, that are central to the life of a great university.