VC’s update – our soon-to-be busy campus and honours

28 January 2022

Hello everyone

I hope you're all settling back into work and study for the year ahead. It will be a busy few weeks on campus - something I am excited about. Campus has been quiet for a long time, so it will be refreshing to see people out and about again. I for one, am at my most productive when I am on campus surrounded by students and colleagues discussing ideas big and small. It is this type of environment that empowered me to make my discoveries, and I hope we can empower everyone to make theirs.

It will also be nice to have our Chancellor back on campus again for the first time in a while. She is a bit of a refugee from WA, having come East before Christmas, but now unable to get easily back home. I will be joining her on the lawns of University Avenue for my annual State of the University address on Monday 7 February. This is Julie and my chance to tell everyone how we see the world, and our vision for 2022 and beyond. It will be great to see you many of you there. Register here.

It has been a long, long, long time coming, but hopefully the wait will be worthwhile for our 2020/2021 graduates who will finally have their 'walk across stage' moment in a traditional graduation ceremony.  We will have eight ceremonies starting after our State of the University address, over three days. Graduations are important - they mark a major time of transition in most people's lives, and mark the end of many years of hard work.

Following graduation and to kick off O-Week, we will be welcoming our 2022 cohort of students to ANU with our annual Commencement address. It can be daunting starting at university but I am pleased that our incoming students will be able to enjoy campus life now that we are settling into a new 'normal' living with COVID. ANU alumna and the 2021 Indigenous Leader of the Year Mikaela Jade will be this year's guest speaker. Mikaela founded Indigital, Australia's first Indigenous edu-tech company specialising in technology development and digital skills training. I am really looking forward to hearing her keynote and it will be great to welcome her back to campus. It's important we make our new students feel welcome so I encourage you to drop past University Avenue lawns and watch the address.

A team of ANU researchers, led by Professor Frank van Haren, have discovered that the drug heparin - widely available and affordable medication that is used to prevent/treat certain blood, heart and lung conditions - can limit the damage to the lungs when inhaled by patients with COVID-19. This is promising news and is hoped to act as a treatment for and possible preventative against the virus. We already know that COVID is going to be around for a while, but we are fortunate that modern science including vaccines and this type of research helps pave the way for us to live with it and help minimise the impacts of the pandemic. Also a good reminder to book in and get your booster!

Congratulations to our ANU community who received Australia Day Honours this year. Emeritus Professor Jenny Graves was one of seven people across the whole country to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for her work in evolutionary genetics and science leadership.  Professor Amanda Barnard and David Williams were both appointed Members of the Order of Australia (AM). Amanda has done some incredible work in the space of computational science, medical research and education, and has led the way for women in science. David has been recognised for his significant contributions to people with disabilities and to education. Congratulations to all of you - well deserved. Late Emeritus Professor John Love was also posthumously recognised for his significant contributions to tertiary education, particularly physics. John had also established the Love Scholarship at ANU to help disadvantaged students study here. It is wonderful that John's legacy lives on, not only here at ANU but within the wider community.

Alumni and friends of the University, Graham and Louise Tuckwell were named Officers of the Order of Australia (AO) for their philanthropic work with ANU. Graham and Louise established the Tuckwell Scholarships nine years ago - one of the most transformational undergraduate scholarships programs in the country. Well done Graham and Louise. Over 40 members of our alumni community received Australia Day Honours this year, showing the impact ANU has on the nation. You can read more here.

For those who celebrate the Lunar New Year, I hope you have an enjoyable holiday with your loved ones. In a few weeks, when we are all back on campus, we will be hosting the 2022 ANU Lunar New Year Celebration in partnership with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China and the ACT Chinese Australian Association. There will be lion dancers, traditional games and performances, workshops and delicious East and Southeast Asian food - a great way to mark the Year of the Tiger. 

I will be tidying up the vineyard this weekend when it's not raining, and working on a boysenberry-cream cheese strudel when it is. I find stretching strudel dough out across the kitchen counter to a paper thin thickness strangely satisfying.

Keep safe everyone and enjoy the weekend.