VC’s update – COP26 and traditional graduations

5 November 2021

Hello everyone

It's been a hard slog for the last 20 month, but I am increasingly optimistic that we are going to be able to enjoy a transition to a more 'normal' 2022. This is not to say it's not going to have its challenges - but enough security and stability to be able to get things done and enjoy life. I acknowledge how disruptive the pandemic has been for our entire community. Our students, in particular, have missed out on many of the important milestones that contribute to their university experience - graduations being one of them.

So I am pleased to announce that we will have our traditional graduation ceremonies in February next year, this will be in place of the hybrid celebration we'd previously announced. We know our graduates want the opportunity to walk across the stage, and we now expect to be able to deliver this experience in a COVID-safe way. You will be contacted in the coming weeks with more information.

I have been encouraged by news that that double vaccinated students (with a TGA recognised vaccine) from Singapore will be able to return to the ACT via NSW or Victoria from 21 November without having to quarantine. For our other students located in other countries, we are hopeful that there will be news from the Federal Government soon that provides a safe pathway for your return to Australia. We will continue working with the relevant authorities and are committed to doing what it takes to get all of our students back on campus next year.

Four of our leading climate change experts - Dr Virginia Marshall, Dr Siobhan McDonnell, Dr Ian Fry and Dr George Carter - are currently in Glasgow for the United Nations COP26 global summit. Our many other experts who are grounded in Australia are also closely following and providing commentary on the negotiations. Notable new initiatives supported by many countries include an agreement to end deforestation and enhance sustainable land use, and a collective pledge to cut emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. ANU is among the leaders in the field of climate change and our experts have already been citied in over 500 media clips since the summit began. Living sustainably on our planet is not a like-to-have proposition, and we can be proud that our University is a leader at understanding and undertaking the path that delivers enhanced global prosperity along-side a sustainable future.

It was also great to see our ANU alumna and Chief Operating Officer of Mineral Carbonation International (MCI) Sophia Hamblin Wang win the COP26 clean energy start up pitch battle in Glasgow - out of more than 2,500 start-ups from around the world. MCI was one of only 11 companies chosen by the Australian Government to showcase their tech at the Australian Pavilion at COP26 - which turns carbon emissions into useable products. It does ANU proud when we see members of our alumni community on the global stage! Congratulations to Sophia and her team.

I would like to congratulate Professor Anthea Roberts on the recent release of her co-authored book with Queen's University's Professor Nicolas Lamp, Six Faces of Globalization: who wins, who loses, and why it matters - published by Harvard University Press. It is already listed on Amazon's top new releases in foreign and international law and has been launched in a big way in the US.  

It takes a little luck and a lot of grit to get a book onto the world stage. To celebrate her launch here, ANU will host an online panel event on Tuesday 16 November featuring distinguished panellists including Professor Anthea Roberts, Professor Helen Sullivan, Professor Hilary Charlesworth, Richard Maude, Professor Heather Smith PSM and Jason Yatsen Li. Anthea and Nicolas cut through the complexity about the virtues and vices of economic globalisation and the way it's received in today's world.

Lastly, the Semester 2 2021 Pulse Staff Engagement Survey will be live on Monday 15 November. I would encourage you all to participate - noting it is anonymous. It should take you no more than 5-10 minutes to complete. I want ANU to be the best place to work in the world - and it is your feedback that helps us continually improve - and yes, I personally look at these surveys, and use them to help steer us in the right direction. If you have any questions or concerns about the survey, please contact the Planning and Service Performance Division at evaluations@anu.edu.au.

While the weekend looks to be a little grey, I'll take the green grass that we get in return.

Brian