VC's Update – O'Week 2020

21 February 2020

Hi everyone, 

I am very honoured to be reappointed as your Vice-Chancellor for another five-year term - it is an amazing privilege, even if it is the hardest job I have ever done. I hope that in continuing in the role, that I can use my skills and knowledge to help all of us advance ANU in its mission to serve Australia and the world. I am proud of what we have achieved together so far, but there is still more we can do.  We have just started our journey to ensure ANU truly reflects Australia, and is a place every Australian feels connected to.  ANU, through our staff, students and alumni can make the world better - and I want to ensure each of us have the skills, the resources, the opportunities, and the confidence to go and make that change real. We have such a great community which I'm very proud to be part of. 

Earlier this week you would have seen the announcement that the ANU Council has passed a resolution on climate change.  The resolution notes that the unprecedented and extreme weather events we have lived through this summer have been exacerbated by climate change, as ANU scientists, among others, have long predicted and warned. Most importantly the resolution commits ANU to taking action to help meet the growing challenge of climate change and that this action needs to happen now. There is no greater, nor more important, issue facing humanity than climate change. You can read the resolution here

It has also been a huge week on campus with the start of O-Week. Even though not all of our students could be here in person, the campus is vibrant and full of activity. I've been walking around and seeing lots of new students finding their way. If you see someone who looks a little lost - have a chat and try and give them directions. Welcome them to our community. It has been a tough start to the year for many of us, and it's really important that we make sure we show our new students what an incredibly supportive campus they have become part of. 

You'll also know that many students couldn't be here in person and will be starting their courses remotely this semester. Until they arrive on campus, we've been making sure that they don't miss out on the ANU experience. From a giant G'DAY at Commencement, to online inductions and virtual tours of Market Day - we are working to make sure everyone in our community feels connected to campus. ANUSA, PARSA and many staff have been working hard to deliver a great O-Week and make all of our new students feel welcome no matter where they are. I am somewhat unsure about the ANU biscuits with images of campus with 'things to watch out for', including perhaps a less-than-flattering rendition of me, but they do taste good.  

To our academic staff I have some exciting news - the Network for Early Career Academics, or NECTAR, will once again be coordinating a mentoring program for early-career academics. This program has been designed by our staff (for our staff!) and I encourage all of you to participate. In my own career, I have been very fortunate to have had a number of great mentors who have not only supported my career, but my research and my family. I am still in touch with many of them today - who continue to give me guidance when I need it. It is a very rewarding experience to be a mentor and help shape someone else's academic career, but it also gives you a chance to learn about yourself and what is important to you. If you haven't signed up already, enrolments close on 8 April and you can find out more information here

Last night Dr Luby Simson and I attended the SAGE Athena Swan Institutional Bronze awards dinner in Adelaide and was very honoured to collect the Bronze award on behalf of the University. ANU was awarded this in 2019 as a recognition for the first steps we have taken as an organisation to bring true equality across our campus. We still have so much more to do but I wanted to thank everyone involved who is continuously working towards our goal to achieve this. I encourage you to reach out to one of the members of our IDEA committee to offer your assistance or to find out what we are doing next.  

Finally, I am looking forward to hosting the Order of Australia Lecture on Wednesday 4 March. The keynote address is delivered each year by a member of our community who has been recognised for their distinguished service to the nation.  Admiral (Ret'd) Chris Barrie AO will be delivering the 2020 address and will be reflecting on Australia's honour system. As someone who has received an AC, I will be very interested to hear his views on the value, worth and role of the honour systems in Australia.  

I hope you have a great weekend, I'm going to enjoy a quiet birthday celebration with my family.  

Brian