VC's Update - 2018 Alumni Awards and more

13 April 2018

Hi everyone,

Last week we held the 6th annual ANU Alumni Awards at the National Gallery of Australia. This event is one of my favourite evenings of the year, as we gather alumni and students to celebrate the difference ANU people are making to our community and the world. This year, our top award - Alumna of the Year - went to the Hon. Susan Ryan AO, for her extraordinary contributions to the causes of equality and human rights in Australia. Susan was the first woman to hold a cabinet post in a federal Labor government when she was appointed Minister for Education and Youth Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women in 1983, and her contribution to the advancement of gender equity legislation is formidable.

Professor Megan Davies, one of Australia's most acclaimed lawyers and a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, was named Indigenous Alumna of the Year, and gave us a memorable and powerful insight into the Uluru Declaration, and a look at the document itself! Our International Alumnus of the Year is Andrew Harper AM, who has worked for nearly three decades to help refugees around the world with the UN and in diplomatic postings.

Our Young Alumnus of the year is Omar Musa, whose creativity in writing, poetry and music has shone a light on the ways racism and misogyny affect marginalised communities, while our Student Volunteers of the Year have also managed to do extraordinary things early in their lives. Dr Francesca Maclean, our postgraduate winner, is a strong advocate for women in STEM and co-founded Fifty50 to support equity in STEM, while Jackson Bursill, our undergraduate winner, has used his elite cross-country skiing talents to raise funds for people in need around the world, from earthquake victims in Nepal to members of the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar and asylum seekers in Australia.

Congratulations to each of these worthy winners - your talents and passion are an example to us all. You can read in more detail about all the 2018 Alumni Award recipients here.

I am also very pleased to announce that the University's new workplace safety incident & hazard reporting tool, Figtree, is now live on the ANU website for staff and students. You can use Figtree to report a safety concern or potential hazard. Remember, if you see it - report it. ANU is committed to making our campus as safe as possible, and our staff and students reporting issues as they arise will really help us do this.

On Wednesday, Chris Grange and I hosted a thank you event for staff and students who went above and beyond during the February flooding. From the terrific staff at Toad Hall - who battled the water during the flood and power outages in the days after - to our gardeners, IT staff, electricians and plumbers; from our lecturers and technicians to our librarians and security officers, I wanted to say a huge thank you. Many colleagues around the University have been working tirelessly to bring essential services back online, minimise disruptions and push on with the clean-up, and it is right that these efforts are warmly acknowledged.

This week, I also welcomed the Aboriginal Affairs NSW Research Agenda to campus. This seminar brought leading academics, policymakers and community leaders together to discuss how research can support Indigenous communities through future policy initiatives. It was a privilege to join this important conversation and to showcase ANU as a centre of Indigenous research, expertise and learning. We have made a firm commitment in our Reconciliation Action Plan that ANU will become the destination of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intellectual leaders to undertake research and to contribute to policy making - and seminars such as this are a step in the right direction.

Finally, students will be returning to campus on Monday after the teaching break, so the campus will be back to its lively self again. I also remind everyone that the part of University Avenue between the Pop-Up Village and the Copland Courtyard will be closing in late April and will not re-open until the Kambri precinct is completed in 2019. I acknowledge the serious inconvenience this will cause, and I am sorry for it. Using Kingsley Place nearby should only add a few minutes to your walk between classes but make sure you check the signposts and the project website for updates. This work is essential to create a spectacular gateway into the new precinct but I apologise in advance for the noise and construction impact around this central hub. However, the result will be worth it.

If you have any questions, don't forget to send me an email at or watch my monthly video blog.

Have a good weekend,