VC's update – Minister's campus visit and annual awards

22 October 2021

Hello everyone

For those of you in the ACT, NSW, and Victoria, I hope you are enjoying some new COVID-safe freedoms. I have never been so excited to get a haircut.

As mentioned in my message earlier this week in On Campus, we are staging our return to campus to help us manage the logistics around providing a safe campus. Our overarching goal is to be well placed so we can have a fantastic and full campus experience in 2022 - this includes ensuring our community remains safe. But I know some of you are keen to get back sooner rather than later. Our College and Service Division leaders will let you know your area plans soon. I thank you all for your patience, noting whatever can't be done at home, can already be done on campus. You can read my full message here.

I am very pleased globally renowned Aboriginal researcher and clinician Professor Alex Brown will join ANU as a Professor of Indigenous Genomics - part of our new strategic partnership with Perth's Telethon Kids Institute. Alex will work closely with our Chancellor, who is Chair of the Institute, and his work will continue to improve health care and services in Indigenous communities. Our partnership will continue to help close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people are part of targeted approaches to prevention and treatments.

I was pleased to be able to welcome the Honourable Melissa Price MP to our campus this morning. Melissa was appointed as the new Federal Science Minister earlier this month - she is also Minister for Defence Industry. The Minister and her advisers visited the Department of Nuclear Physics and the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility, while donning hard hats for a tour of the still-under-construction but impressive new Physics building. Following the recent establishment of the trilateral security pact between Australia, UK and US (AUKUS alliance), this was a great opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities in nuclear science. ANU is well placed to play a key role in the Government's plans to build and sustain a sovereign capability to manage the nuclear submarine fleet to be acquired through the alliance.  

I know there has been a lot of uncertainty for Year 12 students completing their studies this year during a pandemic but we are absolutely committed to honouring all the offers we've given to students already. These students have a place at ANU, they just need to continue to focus on their studies and get through the year. The majority of applicants have already received offers from ANU as part of our direct entry process and I am looking forward to welcoming our new cohort in 2022. ANU will honour all offers that we've given to applicants who complete Year 12. If you have a child, sibling or family member who is finishing Year 12 - tell them to hang in there and I look forward to seeing them here at ANU next year.

I am also looking forward to welcoming 32 students who will be the first cohort in 2022 of the first-of-its-kind scholarship we announced earlier this year at our strategic plan launch. This scholarship helps financially disadvantaged students to live on campus in their first year and receive $8,000 each year for three years. Everyone should have access to their national university and money worries should no longer be a reason why talented Australians cannot study at ANU. We are the only research university in the country whose intended main student catchment zone is the entire nation.

A reminder that our nominations for the 2021 Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor's Annual Awards are still open and will close next week on Friday 29 October.  Let's  celebrate our community and take joy in acknowledging the achievements of our colleagues. The awards night will be held on Tuesday 23 November 2021 so please save the date. Think of a colleague who has gone above and beyond and nominate them!

To celebrate our 75th anniversary this year, ANU Advancement held its annual Giving Day over 75 hours earlier this month with a target of raising $75,000. With enormous support from our community, over $123,000 was raised! A truly great effort which will go onto support 24 College and University-wide areas. You can read more about where the donations will be distributed here, and if you're interested in the ANU Advancement Learning Challenge this week. Thank you to everyone for their generosity.

From today, ANU will start the process to move to multi-factor authentication on Office365 - staff have 14 days to enrol their device and authentication app. I started using it this morning and I am looking forward to knowing that if I get phished, I have a strong layer of protection to protect my account. I know it can seem inconvenient at times, but it's absolutely necessary to protect ourselves and each other in today's digital environment. The process to switch over only takes two minutes so please read the instructions here. This is just an interim measure - and I'm really looking forward to a password-free future next year!  

Finally, I'd like to congratulate ANU Research School of Earth Sciences PhD student Tharika Liyanage who secured silver at the 2021 Asia-Pacific Three Minute Thesis Final! Tharika did ANU very proud and is on a quest to solve a billion-year-old molecule mystery, asking the question who makes cheilanthanes? Well done Tharika - I look forward to you cracking the case.

Have a great weekend everyone - a reminder our last ANU 'holiday' for the year is on Monday 1 November. It will follow the same model as our one earlier in September. A good chance for you all to plan a proper break - it's amazing what some time off can do to help you reset.

Brian