VC's Update – State of the University

7 February 2020

Hi everyone, 

As I write my first blog in 2020, I am reflecting on how our summer has been disrupted and very challenging. Everyone has been impacted, whether you were here in Canberra with heavy and seemingly never-ending smoke or watching from afar. I know that like me, many of you have found this year exhausting and we are only in February... So, I am planning a 'Reset 2020' in the coming weeks... More details to follow.  

Last week the 2020 Australian of the Year awards were announced, with several members of our community recognised. Among them, Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell and Professor Hal Hill have been appointed Officers of the Order of Australia (AO) for their service to education. The awards are an opportunity to not only highlight and celebrate contributions to Australia, but to encourage us all to reflect on how we can make Australia a better place. Congratulations to all of the 2020 recipients, you can see the ANU list here.  

I was also pleased to read that seven Fulbright scholarships have been awarded to ANU staff and students. Since 1949, the Fulbright scholarship has provided Australian students the opportunity to further their education in the United States - and for American students to travel here to learn from us. No matter what your chosen field is, the opportunity to travel to new places and meet new people provides a different perspective and fosters strong relationships with other countries. 

We have opened our draft Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for community consultation. I want ANU to be a place that is welcoming and inclusive of everyone, and one that celebrates our diversity. We cannot be a truly inclusive place while Australia's First Peoples are not duly recognised. It is both a responsibility and a privilege to contribute to the advancement of Australia's First Peoples; through education, research and providing a platform for meaningful debate that shapes the national conversation. While our last RAP saw many commitments fulfilled, we still have much work to do, and I need your help. Everyone has a part to play in working towards reconciliation - setting ambitious goals and defining the roadmap to get there. You can view and add your comments to the draft plan here

Earlier today I spoke at our annual State of the University address. I was very pleased to see so many staff from across campus hear about the priorities for ANU, and what we are going to be doing to achieve our goals from now to 2025. I was also very pleased to announce the establishment of the Kambri Scholarships, which will provide any Indigenous student who is admitted to ANU, the financial, academic and pastoral support they need to thrive in our community. We are also looking to make ANU not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative, and I have asked our Climate Change Institute to convene a group of our staff and students to chart how ANU can do this. The State of the University was also the first chance for many people to meet our new Chancellor, the Hon Julie Bishop and hear why she chose ANU. You can read a copy of our speeches here

Finally, it is great news that Fellows Café has re-opened today following the hailstorm damage. Although there are still significant repairs to be completed around University House, the team have worked hard to reopen and bring their services back online. If you have a chance, pop down to Fellows for a drink, enjoy some live music and show your support for the House.  

I hope everyone has a nice weekend, and we get the forecasted rain - my dams need it! 

Brian