VC’s update – Marramarra Murru and 75th closing celebrations

1 July 2022

Hello everyone, 

I hope you are all enjoying the lull before Semester 2 starts. I am currently in Germany for the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting - it's been great to catch up with several ANU students as well as my fellow laureates. My temperature gauge suggests I have been missing out on some cold nights.  

After avoiding COVID for two and a half years, it finally caught up with me on this trip. So, I spent 10 days relaxing a bit more than I was expecting. While I was lucky to be almost unaffected by it, all the evidence indicates you really don't want to catch it at all, and you certainly want to avoid catching it many times. While I have been quite careful, I got done in at a formal dinner.  

Last week ANU hosted a series of landmark discussions about Indigenous economies and rights to self-determination. The First Nations Portfolio, led by Professor Peter Yu, brought together senior leaders and experts in Indigenous economic development from Australia and around the world for the Marramarra Murru (creating pathways) First Nations Wealth Forum and Economic Development Symposium. I was disappointed to miss it but from what I have read in the media and by all reports from my colleagues it was a productive and powerful few days. 

The symposium showcased the existing and potential power of Indigenous Australian communities to activate their assets and take charge of their futures, and think about policy design and the institutional reforms required in a post-treaty, post-constitutional reform era of Australian history. Peter and his team will build on the foundations laid during Marramarra Murru and host an International Treaty Forum by 2024. Well done to everyone involved - these are the conversations needed to drive action and as the national university, we need to play an integral role in doing so.  

ANU has an alumni community of more than 120,000 graduates - all of who are making their mark across Australia and the globe. I encourage you to think about members in our alumni community - friends, family or colleagues - that should have their story shared and be recognised for their contributions as part of our 2022 Alumni awards. Nominations are now open and close on Sunday 10 July. 

My thanks to all the research teams that submitted expressions of interest to be part of the Engaged ANU project. The pilot will support academics to develop innovative ways to engage the community with their research. The selection panel was overwhelmed by the number, breadth and quality of the submissions and it was great to see the depth of the work and enthusiasm for engagement across our campus.  

I am pleased to announce that the following projects will be part of the Engaged ANU pilot: 

  • Navigating the Energy Transition, led by Bjorn Sturmberg
  • Indigenous benefit in the clean energy transition, led by Brad Riley
  • Mayi Kuwayu: the National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing, led by Ray Lovett  
  • Murrudha: Sovereign Walks - Tracking Cultural Actions Through Art, Country, Language and Music, led by Brenda Croft  
  • To Be Continued: The Australian Newspaper Fiction Database, led by Katherine Bode 
  • ANU and the Australian High Country, led by Adrienne Nicotra 
  • Kuwae - the Volcanic Eruption that Launched the Modern World, led by Christopher Ballard  

The Engaged ANU creative team is working closely with ANU Communications and Engagement and other colleagues to identify ways to support the projects that will not be part of the pilot.  Congratulations to everyone involved - I am looking forward to seeing the outcomes and sharing them with the world.   

Later this month, ANU will farewell two valued colleagues of our community - Dr Nadine White, Chief People Officer in Human Resources, and Paul Duldig, Chief Operating Officer. Nadine's last day will be next week - after 16 years' service to ANU and 10 years in her current role, Nadine will embark on her new chapter to focus on consulting and board roles.  

Nadine has dealt with some of the most complex, personal and sensitive issues in our community, while always remaining a professional and wise leader. Her leadership delivered many significant achievements including the successful Enterprise Agreements, and she was key to our sector-leading reform to paid parental leave, matching entitlements for birth and non-birth parents and superannuation for staff on parental leave. Nadine will leave a legacy behind and I am thankful for her time here at ANU.  

Paul will take up a major public appointment in early August as Chief Executive of the State Library Victoria. Paul joined ANU in 2019 and saw out his tenure in the most challenging times ANU has ever faced. He's led six critical incidents for the University (let's hope July doesn't require his lead for a seventh!) and was a key architect of the ANU Recovery Plan that enabled us to get back onto a path of sustainability. Paul was always driven by determination that ANU should be a leader in what we do and confront the difficult choices modern universities must make in order to be great.  

ANU has been fortunate to have Nadine and Paul part of our community and leadership team, and I look forward to welcoming you back to campus when you visit. Congratulations to you both and thank you for everything you've done for ANU. 

I have seen a fair bit of conversation about our 'In the Practice' academic roles through various channels. This is a new set of roles we started three years ago so that we can bring into our community people with a diverse range of experiences and expertise that we do not have within our academic and professional staff. There is only a small number of these roles (less than 10), they are fixed term, and are meant to help us achieve our mission. As with all centrally sponsored programs, we are committed to diversity that reflects our nation 

Congratulations to two of our Professors who have given up their positions at ANU to accept senior roles in the Australian Public Service. Professor Glyn Davis takes on the most senior public service role in the nation, heading up the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Professor Gordon de Brouwer takes on the new role of Secretary for Public Sector Reform. This demonstrated mobility between ANU and key Commonwealth roles is one of the ways we can help serve the nation, and is partly what the 'In the Practice' roles are to help facilitate. We wish them both success in these important and challenging positions. 

Lastly, our year of 75th anniversary celebrations is coming to an end. We've had an exceptional year of celebrating our 75 years and we've had a number of defining moments in the history of the University's existence in the last few years. We have a busy final week to mark the closing of our celebrations. On Tuesday 26 July a distinguished panel will come together to discuss the future of universities and how ANU and other universities will look, and how the higher education sector meets the needs for a rapidly changing world.  On Friday 29 July, the Chancellor and I will host the closing ceremony on campus, where we will be preserving a selection of items that members of our community submitted for our time capsule. The capsule will be sealed and be opened at our 100th anniversary in 2046. It's a special moment in our ANU history and I hope to see you there.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. I will be traveling back to Australia and I am looking forward to returning to campus next week, albeit wearing a warmer set of clothes.