Mr Neill Daly

Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Service to the Campus Community; and, Vice-Chancellor's Award for Innovation & Excellence in Service
22 November 2019

The Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Service to the Campus Community is awarded for exceptional dedication and service to the campus community beyond normal expectations.

Mr Neill Daly has made a distinguished contribution to major capital works projects at ANU. Neill joined the ANU in 2015 and was appointed as the Associate Director (Projects) in the Facilities and Services Division in 2017. He has oversight and management of multiple major capital work projects across the University campus, all of which will improve the welfare of the campus community both permanently and significantly.

Neill is a trusted adviser, valued mentor and friend to all of the ANU staff, students and external stakeholders that he has been in contact and worked with during his time at ANU. His work has influenced teaching and research on campus, and the facilities and services available to staff members, students and the public.

As well as being involved in the 2019 Campus Masterplan from concept to launch, Neill has been instrumental in updating the Campus & Building Requirements Manual in line with the Building Code of Australia (within the National Construction Code) and Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA) Space Planning Guidelines.

He has contributed to the success of projects across all Colleges at ANU, with a demonstrated commitment to improving facilities for staff and students. Just to name a few: a new Design building, a new Humanities building, the Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) building project, a new flagship laboratory for Physics to the value of more than $200million, the Law and Moot Court refurbishment, the Coombs refurbishment, CBE refurbishments, and infrastructure projects under the CECS Reimagine project.

Neill always has the Colleges' best interests at heart and cares deeply about the success of every project. However, it is the passion, pride and professionalism that Neill brings to his work that makes him an outstanding member of our ANU community.

Neill is also the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Innovation & Excellence in Service. This award recognises staff innovation and excellence in service delivery, improvement, or innovation in support of the University's strategic goals.

Neill is undoubtedly deserving of this award, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the capital works to reinvigorate the built environment of the Baldessin Precinct for CASS, including the new Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) building. These projects will provide a hub of world-class facilities for staff and students in the humanities, arts and social sciences at ANU.

The new RSSS building will be the second building ever built at an Australian university dedicated solely to the social sciences, an achievement that matches the unparalleled research, reputation and ranking of the Schools, Centres and disciplines within RSSS.

Neill joined the RSSS building project in 2017, marking a clear turning point in the history of the project. Neill has drawn upon his world of expertise to deliver some remarkably innovative solutions to complex and costly project hurdles, including negotiating for the demolition of the existing building on the chosen RSSS building site (the Pauline Griffin Building) to be treated as a separate project, saving the project six months of downtime.  Neill also embarked on extensive user requirements testing to hear directly from numerous staff and students of CASS. He patiently listened to their frustrations, and expertly sought out innovative solutions to address their concerns.

One of Neill's most striking and innovative solutions to the needs of RSSS was the implementation of cutting-edge noise cancelling technology hidden in the ceiling space of each floor. Internal partitions will be built on each floor, connecting to this noise cancelling technology. This provides acoustic privacy for staff and students, and gives future users of the building flexibility as internal walls can be reconfigured.

Neill has also been instrumental in a number of other successful bids for CASS. His advice and input were instrumental in the College's successful capital works bid for a new humanities building that will provide the staff and students in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics and the School of Archaeology and Anthropology with brand new laboratories, teaching spaces, and spaces for their culturally and historically significant collections.

The projects that Neill has managed, sponsored or supported will significantly improve the way humanities, arts and social sciences are taught and researched at ANU.

Prior to the team receiving the award, Neill was sent a series of questions. His responses are below.

Q: Congratulations on being nominated a finalist for the 2019 Vice-Chancellor's Annual Awards. Can you briefly tell us what this honour means to you?

A: This office is inextricably linked to whole of campus capital development and renewal. Given the scale and ambition of development and renewal it is not something which can be attributed to, or carried by one individual, it is a team effort. This necessarily links the Projects office to campus experience for every user and visitor to the campus. I take my role in understanding, resolving and delivering a better campus as the priority. I am grateful others have seen in the team, and me, a palpable and tangible positive change in this office and its focus. Indeed, I am honoured. I also thank those who have chosen to identify and nominate me - the cliché is I had no idea - I really didn't.

Q: Tell us a little about the behind-the-scenes work involved in the project you worked on. What was a challenging aspect of the work? How did you overcome this?

A: Being across built environment initiatives, developments and renewal across every part of the ANU; the campuses, the Colleges, Research Schools and the Divisions; agility and understanding of the present and future need are required. A detailed and deep knowledge of the operation of the whole institution is not required, yet a grasp of how each capital improvement and built environment is.

Specifically, to the Acton Campus Master Plan. There was no-one more driven and ANU-focused than our Chancellor. The Chancellor encouraged the project team and I, to be more ambitious, aim higher, seek better goals and keep pushing for more and more optimum results. This has had a professional impact on me to ensure the ANU - and its strategies, tactics and objectives - remain at the centre of my view, and are clearly articulated and realistic. I thank the Chancellor for allowing me to witness his incredible thought process and indefatigable energy for this project.

Q: Where is your favourite place on campus?

A: I couldn't pinpoint a favourite campus space, place or architectural or natural gesture. My role has taken me to many of the facilities of the ANU, from Acton, to Mt Stromlo and Siding Spring. I am constantly impressed to see and encounter the diverse range of researchers and research activities from telescopes to microscopes and collections to collaborations.                   

Q: Why Canberra? Why ANU?

A: The national capital offers access to very high quality infrastructure and amenity. That is a bit of a pedestrian answer. The national capital continues to offer a significant number of high quality and diverse events for which my partner and I (as relative new Territorians) value the opportunity to get out and be part of our community.

Q: Can you tell us a little about why you are so passionate about what you do?

A:  I am informed that someone can love their job - but the job doesn't love them back. Being nominated for this award is proof to the contrary. Everything I do has a real physical impact - sometimes to a few, sometimes to many. I know my efforts and those of the office impact the way the ANU community and visitors use, feel and experience the campuses.

Q: Is there anyone you would like to recognise for helping you become a finalist for the 2019 Vice-Chancellor's Annual Awards?

A: My office is tasked with interacting with and accessing most parts of the ANU, its research and its communities. It is not possible to undertake the role without considerable assistance from others.

The Director and senior team at the Facilities & Services (F&S) Division are extremely responsible, professional and supportive to my role; cohesion at this level is demanded by each of our roles and the campus community.

There have been times when I have needed to inject myself into a process and project and contribute to projects at the coal face. This has assisted the Projects team, incorporating the Space team, to deliver the bulk of the work with confidence. It also provides me with a greater knowledge of the project. These teams include many new staff driven to contribute to enhanced processes and outcomes. Driven to be engaged with the projects and you. These are the people who do make me look good.

Many of the suppliers to projects at the various stages manage to make me - and by extension the team and F&S - look good. Project delivery includes the whole project and not just construction. Understanding a project's needs, the ANU requirement and developing options is not a unilateral task and is not undertaken on a single input.

You; the client, user, researcher, teacher, leader, executive; know more about the project requirements than I do. You need an efficient and optimal outcome more than I do. Your ability to articulate at a fine grain is important and appreciated - this information is necessary to assist driving every project team member to deliver on those requirements and challenges to ensure enhanced project success at every stage and every level.

So to the F&S leadership, my staff, the suppliers and most importantly you - I thank you.