VC’s Update – the Strategic Plan, ANU Commencement and more

10 February 2017

Hi everyone,

It is fitting that I write about the future of ANU today, on the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of our founders, and first official graduate, Sir Robert Randolph Garran.

Sir Robert was instrumental in the creation of this great university, a place that he wanted to be 'distinctly different in character and function from any institution'. You can read more about Sir Robert and his close ties to Canberra, here. One of the things I have taken away from his story is that, 70 years on, our founders would be very proud of this university.

But times have changed and so must we. That is why the ANU Strategic Plan 2017-2021, that I delivered yesterday at the State of the University address, sets out key areas that I'd like us to concentrate on. These include the creation of a public policy incubator to help us explore interdisciplinary ideas and challenges. I want us to harness the talents of those who work in the private sector to help us forge stronger ties and better connections to industry. I want us to boost our philanthropy and play a leadership role in Indigenous reconciliation by becoming the destination of choice for Indigenous intellectual leaders.  I am also deeply committed to ensuring women achieve the full promise of their careers - academic and professional - at ANU. I want us to enhance the student experience and services we offer. Part of that involves revitalising the heart of our campus, Union Court. We have some ambitious goals set out for ANU. I encourage you to embrace the challenge. After all, we all want to work in a place where we strive for excellence.

Some big news at the School of Music this week. I'm absolutely delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Ken Lampl as Head and Dr Paul McMahon as Deputy Head to lead the School. During his career, Professor Lampl has played alongside some of the world's greatest jazz musicians, while his compositions for film, TV and games are known around the world. As part of his repertoire, he composed music for the first two Pokémon movies. Dr McMahon is currently head of the School's Performance program and will focus on building internationally ranked performance tuition as the School increases its numbers of internal performance teachers. As part of the transition to new leadership, Professor Malcolm Gillies will remain as School mentor. I congratulate Professor Lampl and Dr McMahon and look forward to working with them to ensure a bright future for music teaching and research at the School.

Earlier this week, the John Curtin School of Medical Research hosted the ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris and the Australian Cancer Research Foundation to unveil new equipment designed to fast-track the development of drugs that treat cancer and other diseases. The $2 million initiative, and the partnership behind it, is a perfect example of the cross collaboration ANU can undertake with research partners and governments, and it is great to see us take a leap forward in this area.

I encourage undergraduate and postgraduate students still considering which courses to enrol in this semester to have a look at the Vice-Chancellor's courses. The VC's courses are interdisciplinary and count as electives for most ANU degrees. They can be completed as part of the Minor in Leadership and Research, or as part of the Minor, Major and Masters in Innovation and Professional Practice. Three courses are available this semester: Creating Impact, Leadership and Influence, and Unravelling Complexity. The information sessions are being held from 1-2pm on 13 and 14 February, 3-4pm on 16 February and 12-1pm on 17 February in Manning Clark Theatre 6.

Next week we formally open the academic year with O-Week festivities including the ANU Commencement Address, which will be on the lawns of University Avenue on Wednesday morning. I'm looking forward to joining the ANUSA and PARSA presidents James Connelly and Alyssa Shaw in welcoming students back to campus. Those who attend will also hear from two high-profile alumni, Thérèse Rein and Jamila Rizvi, who no doubt, will recount some of their fondest memories of their time studying here. I encourage everyone in the ANU community to come along and make our new students feel welcome.

See you at Commencement.