VC's update – Julie Bishop reappointed as Chancellor

1 October 2021

Hello everyone

A big news day! I have lost my Premier - noting I live in NSW, and gained my 13th Science minister in the 9 years and 362 days since I was announced as Nobel Prize Winner.

But even more importantly - I am very pleased to announce that our Chancellor the Hon Julie Bishop has been reappointed for a four-year term. We are privileged to have one of the nation's most eminent leaders as Chancellor, and Julie has done an outstanding job since she joined ANU in 2020. Starting at the beginning of a year no one could imagine, Julie's navigated the rough seas with her excellent leadership of ANU Council and raised the University's domestic and international profile with her engagement and advocacy. I am looking forward to working with our Chancellor for her next term and her keeping me in check!

Most of you would have read the ACT Government's roadmap out of lockdown earlier this week. We will still continue to work and study remotely until the end of the year - with exceptions for small number of teaching activities if they can resume in a COVID-safe way. As I've said before, our return to campus will be gradual and there is no rush to return to campus at this stage. If the ACT lockdown is lifted on 15 October and restrictions are eased further on 29 October as planned, we will have more freedom for our students in residences and we'll open up some study areas on campus. You can read more about our campus updates here. I've established a taskforce to set ANU up for COVID-normal success next semester and beyond, so we'll have more to say about how things will look soon. In the meantime, stay safe and get vaccinated to stay safe. It looks like it is going to be a bumpy ride with 52 cases today in the ACT, and the Prime Minister announcing opening up international borders in November.

We have seen an exciting breakthrough in cancer research that could improve outcomes for people living with the disease. Associate Professor Aude Fahrer and her team have discovered a low-cost and non-toxic cancer treatment which uses dead bacteria to help kick-start the immune system and shrink cancer cells. Cancer is an insidious disease and treatment costs can be exorbitant. This sort of research gives hope that one day we will be able to find a cure for all cancers and is a good example of why research and funding is so important. This new treatment is being trialled at the Canberra Hospital, so far with positives results - this could truly change lives and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

We want to provide one of the best student experiences for our students. As part of this, we've established a working group looking at ways we can help our commencing students transition to university life. On 1 November, ANU will be launching a new program, developed as a whole-of-university approach, at the ANU Orientation and Transition Symposium. This is a great opportunity for our professional and academic staff to come together and share best practices to improve the experience for our students.

I'd like to congratulate our 2021 ANU Alumni Award recipients. Over the last 75 years, our alumni have made significant contributions to government, public policy, economy, culture and our communities, both nationally and across the globe. Congratulations to 'Australia's pandemic whisperer' Associate Professor Kamalini Lokuge who is our 2021 ANU Alumna of the Year, trailblazing Indigenous feminist Distinguished Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson (Indigenous Alumna of the Year), human rights and social justice advocate Dr Veronica Fynn Bruey (International Alumna of the Year) and solar tech innovator Afnan Hannan (Young Alumnus of the Year) - who have all received top alumni honours.

These awards also recognise change-makers from our student community - Himangi Ticku's humanitarian volunteer work with detainees, and Dhani Gilbert's advocacy of caring for Country, community, and youth are also 2021 recipients. The awards are an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding achievements of our most remarkable alumni - it is our students and alumni who go on to change the world. Congratulations to all.

Lastly, our Network for Early Career Teachers, Academics and Researchers (ANU NECTAR) is celebrating its 10th anniversary! To celebrate and look towards to the future for the next 10 years, NECTAR is hosting an anniversary forum on 12 October. I would encourage all our early and mid-career researchers and teaching staff to attend. You can register here.

Monday is a public holiday, but it is also the 10th anniversary since winning my Nobel Prize. I reckon I'll get something interesting out of the cellar to celebrate - but also try to figure out how to keep the downy mildew at bay in the vineyard. It is sure wet this year - but I am not complaining - I'll take it over the fires any day.

Enjoy the long weekend everybody. We will have a guest blogger for next week's World Mental Health Day from our Naomi Priest. There is still time to register to participate in our virtual World Mental Health day panel.