Campus has been a bit quiet the past few weeks with our students away on break. We miss them, but I think we all appreciate the opportunity to recharge a little bit. Good luck to our students who start their mid-semester exams next week.
We've had our first frost of the year this week (game over for my tomato plants), but despite losing our precious daylight, autumn is still my favourite season. Partly because its vintage time. Our wine has now finished its fermentation, after 70 friends came over and helped harvest my grapes on 5 April. A very small vintage, but it looks to be a good one!
Over the next few weeks, I will be hosting two forums to update our community on the University's financial health. I aim to tell you everything I know, and explain our finances as best I can. We should all be pleased how we are travelling, but the borders being closed and continual COVID threat means we should not yet celebrate. The forum will also be an opportunity for you to ask me questions about our campus and provide your feedback on any of the things you think are important. I am here to serve you all, and these forums help me get a better understanding of where I should be focusing my efforts - but also for you to get an understanding and input into the decisions I have to make. Please register to attend our staff forum on Friday 23 April or student forum on Wednesday 28 April.
I remain optimistic about getting through COVID because of the amazing success we have had developing a number of vaccines. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation being spread about the COVID-19 vaccines. I encourage everyone to understand as best they can the vaccines, and ensure you get your information from reliable sources. To help you, our ANU experts have made some videos that myth bust some of the most common concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. It'll take you less than two minutes to watch all three videos - watch them, share them, and let's all help make sure that people make decisions based on evidence rather than fiction as captured in these videos about Myth 1, Myth 2 and Myth 3. I've done my Bayesian analysis, and I am ready to take any of the vaccines registered for use in Australia as soon as offered.
Speaking of vaccines, a reminder that ANU is offering FREE flu shots to all staff and students. You can either book in for your shot on campus at the National Health Co-Op or any Terry White Chemist in Canberra using your voucher code on HORUS. Please get your flu shot - it's important for the safety of our community. I've already booked mine. More details about the ANU flu shots here.
Last month the University implemented background checks for new or existing staff who start new positions after 15 March 2021. These checks were put in place for a very good reason - so we can provide a safe environment for our community. Unfortunately, there have been some challenges in rolling it out as easily as we had hoped, and so HR is revising the checking processes over the next few months. In the meantime, in most situations, hiring can now occur before the checks are completed. This doesn't mean these checks don't need to happen, they do - but we will be offering employment contracts with conditions until the background check is completed. Background checks shouldn't slow us down, but it is important they are carried out for the safety of everyone at the University. If you have any concerns regarding the checking processes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more about our checks here.
Our 2021 Alumni Award nominations are now open! The awards are a great way to recognise and celebrate the stories of our exceptional alumni community. Our past awards recipients have included the late Honourable Susan Ryan who made significant changes to equal work for equal pay; Hannah Gadsby for her comedy including the remarkable Nanette; and David Morrison who delivered the famous "the standard you walk past is the standard you accept" speech. We have incredible staff and students doing extraordinary things, so if you can think of someone who you want to be recognised, please just nominate them - it only takes a few minutes. You can read more about the alumni nominations here.
Lastly, walking around our campus this week I was reminded what a special place it is, embedded here in the middle of the Nation's capital. Adam Spence consistently gets my attention with the great photographs he takes of our campus, like the wide eyed owl that set up camp in our big gum tree on Ellery Crescent. It's easy to take for granted the wildlife and nature on our campus - but don't - take a little break and step outside, even if it's just a 10 minute walk around campus and enjoy.
Have a great weekend everyone.
PS. Tomorrow I am reading 'Give me some Space'. It's a nice way to share my love of space with some enthusiastic kids. Online tickets are still available, you can register here.