VC’s update – some busy weeks on campus

11 February 2022

Hello everyone

Wow! It has been a busy week on campus and it really feels like we're back. We've had traditional graduations return and it's been great seeing our grads walking around campus and across the stage in Llewellyn Hall again.

Julie and I were able to deliver the State of the University Address together in person on University Avenue lawns and share our vision for the year with our staff. You know we're heading towards normality when you can welcome a Western Australian back to campus. You can watch the address here.

Graduation was a reminder of why we are here - the students' joy was plain to see even if their smiles were obscured by masks. The grads team did a great job of putting on an event that retained the sense of occasion and celebration our students have been waiting for in a COVID safe way. It was also a great opportunity to put some of our new approaches to improving ventilation through their paces. Systems are usually set to circulate around 15 per cent fresh air through the building but we were able to continuously pump 100 per cent fresh air through Llewellyn Hall for the entire duration of our graduation ceremonies and make use of an upgraded air filtration system - quite a feat!

We were honoured to have the Hon Julia Gillard AC, Chair of the Global Institute for Women's Leadership (GIWL), join us on campus last week. Julia met with the GIWL team to lay out the strategic priorities for the Institute and an exciting program of research and events on gender equality for the year ahead. I wanted to attend GIWL Visiting Fellow Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame's address at the National Press Club (NPC) on Wednesday but due to a time clash with our graduation ceremonies I was unable to. Brittany and Grace advocated for the full implementation of the Jenkins Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces - this is essential to ensure our Parliament sets the standard for our nation as a safe workplace for everyone.

Last week I attended the Prime Minister's address at NPC and it was certainly a colourful experience. I was taken aback by the tone of some of the questions asked but even more so by what I could hear from outside - the angry chants of protesters. Peaceful protest is a basic right of any democracy and freedom of expression is a fundamental human right - one of the many things that is great about Australia. But I must admit, it was intimidating to have to walk through the angry throng of protesters being called a traitor because I chose to wear a mask.

ANU was founded to be a reliable and trusted resource for the nation and our academics have been on the front line of this pandemic, helping to keep Australians safe. The impacts of the pandemic have been lessened through research and other medical breakthroughs - some of which have happened right here on this campus. We are on the tail end of the pandemic - and that's because of modern science. Get vaccinated! Get boosted! And, pick up your free masks and RATs so you have them when you need them.

In more exciting news, I'd like to congratulate Associate Professor Ntina Tzouvala who has recently been awarded the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Certificate of Merit for a Preeminent Contribution to Creative Scholarship. Her recent book, Capitalism as Civilisation: A History of International Law, published by Cambridge University Press in 2020 was the catalyst for her receiving this year's award. This is arguably the most prestigious international law award and it always makes me truly proud when our academics are recognised on a global stage.  Big congratulations Ntina - well deserved!

Lastly, on Thursday 17 February, the ANU Emeritus Faculty will be launching the Life Celebrations - compiled and edited by Chair of the Faculty Professor James Fox. In honour of our 75th anniversary, more than 650 obituaries spanning 20 years have been compiled to pay tribute to some incredible academics across all fields at ANU. Our history is just as important as our present and I would encourage you to look to join the event and remember some of the scholars who helped build the foundation of our University's research output. Details here.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I look forward to welcoming our commencing students next week.