The late autumn mornings may be a bit cooler, but it's worth it to see the spectacular colours across campus at this time of the year. There are more than 10,500 trees at the University and last week the ANU Heritage Office launched a self-guided trail highlighting some of the significant tree species and celebrating the contributions ANU botanist Professor Lindsay Pryor made to Canberra's urban forest.
Last week Professors Margaret Harding and Michael Cardew-Hall hosted a visit by Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, who was given a tour of the Centre for Gravitational Physics Laboratory and the Liquid Instruments Research and Development labs. Dr Finkel is an enthusiastic supporter of the work ANU has done in helping to prove the existence of gravitational waves. Liquid Instruments is a start-up company that grew out of this research and was supported by ANU. We look forward to welcoming the Chief Scientist back to campus soon.
Last Wednesday I was honoured to give the keynote address at the Public Education Foundation annual awards ceremony in Sydney. The awards recognise the excellence of students, teachers, principals and staff who serve in public education. In addition to this, more than 150 hardworking students received scholarships to put towards their education expenses. I am a huge supporter of public education and it was a genuine pleasure to be part of this great event.
The annual ANU Blues Awards were held last Thursday night and, despite not being much of a sportsman nowadays, I was lucky enough to be asked to hand out several awards. The awards celebrate outstanding sporting achievements of our students, staff and alumni. Importantly they are also a chance to recognise the supporters and people in the background who help our athletes shine. I think part of the University experience is having the chance to particiapate in a broad range of extracurricular activities and it is really great to see so many people take advantage of what ANU has to offer.
We held another town hall meeting last week to discuss the new vision for the University and it was pleasing to see it so well attended by members of the University community. There are three forums left so I strongly encourage you to register online and get along to one if you haven't already. We'll be sending out some information soon about how you can contribute to the areas of excellence that will make up the strategic plan.
This week is National Reconciliation Week. The first ANU event is a public presentation from the post-graduate ANU research community whose research reflects the diverse understandings of reconciliation. I will be opening the event and I encourage you to come and be part of reconciliation at ANU.