VC's Update - Commencement, Visiting Fellows Dinner and more

22 February 2019

Hi everyone,

Welcome to all of our new students starting at ANU this week! O-Week is a wonderful tradition to launch the academic semester, giving new students the opportunity to join clubs and societies, meet new people and find their way around campus. This year, we have been joined by students from across Australia, as well as international students from more than 100 countries. It was great to see so many of these students attend the Multicultural Parade over the weekend and proudly represent their countries on behalf of ANU.

To start the week, we formally welcomed new students with our annual Commencement Address. It was terrific to see nearly 2,000 new students attend, processing in with their Colleges, as well as hundreds of staff and current students lining University Avenue to cheer them on. Commencement is a chance for our community to come together and welcome our new students with a little bit of pomp and ceremony, as well as collecting some college merch. The icy poles being handed out by the College of Science will be unmercifully outlived by the purple hats worn by our new Law students! It was great to hear from Professor Megan Davis - one of the key architects of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and our 2018 Indigenous Alumna of the Year - who returned to campus to reflect on her experience of ANU. Among her many pieces of advice, she encouraged new students to be flexible thinkers and read beyond their chosen discipline.

Two weeks ago, we opened our much anticipated Kambri precinct. This has been the most ambitious and significant development in the University's history and I am immensely proud to share this with our community. Kambri is not just a new home for students, it is a place of inspiration, creativity, debate and innovation - core to providing an unparalleled campus experience for our staff and students.

The opening was a once in a generation event, bringing together staff, students and alumni, as well as the Indigenous groups that gifted the name 'Kambri' to ANU. It was also a pleasure to host Peter Garrett as our alumni speaker. He reflected on the old Union Court, playing with Midnight Oil in the ANU Bar and how a central precinct can shape and build community, enriching a campus with a vibrant cultural centre. He suggested we might need to dirty up the venue a bit.  For me, Kambri is a place to share with the broader community, and I look forward to welcoming people into the precinct to enjoy the theatre, pool, bookshop, cafes and restaurants over the coming months.

Also at the opening, we unveiled the newest piece of our artwork collection, Sidney Nolan's Eureka Stockade. It is 20 metres long and is proudly displayed in the large event theatre for everyone to enjoy. Gifted to ANU from the Reserve Bank of Australia, this mural joins Nolan's other artwork, Riverbend, on display at the Drill Hall Gallery as part of our collection. If you haven't seen it in person yet, make sure you head along to a public lecture in the coming weeks to see it.

Projects like Kambri, large in scale and vision, are not just born. They are the product of many years' work - five in this case - from planning, to design, construction and then utilisation. So I would like to thank the entire Kambri team for their work on this project and bringing a new cultural heart to our community.

Last week, we also witnessed a new tradition established with the Visiting Fellows Academic Dinner, hosted by the Australian Studies Institute. This dinner is an opportunity for visiting fellows from other tertiary institutions to meet with academics from ANU and better engage with our community. When these Visiting Fellows return to their primary institutions, I want them to feel connected to ANU, to consider research collaborations with our academics and to want to return here. I encourage you to participate in these events over the coming year.

Finally, last week Professor Frances Arnold, 2018 Nobel Laureate, presented the Birch Lecture, Innovation by Evolution: Bringing New Chemistry to Life. Professor Arnold was awarded the Nobel Prize for her work in directed evolution and is only the fifth woman (in 117 years!) to receive this accolade. It was a great pleasure to host Professor Arnold on our campus. I hope she has helped provide the inspiration for a future chemistry Nobel winner here at ANU.

Enjoy your weekend - I will enjoy mine as I am celebrating my 52nd birthday on Sunday.




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Comment by Deanna Riddell
2.30pm 22 Feb 2019

Happy birthday for Sunday.

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Comment by Rachel Hunter
2.45pm 22 Feb 2019

Happy 52nd birthday Brian.  I hope you have a lovely weekend celebrating.

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Comment by Professor Brian P. Schmidt
3pm 5 Mar 2019

Thanks! I had a great day - went to the tip, fixed my internet and had a wonderful meal with my family.

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Comment by Phil Gibbons
11am 6 Mar 2019

As you welcome visiting fellows to ANU, I am in California as a visitor being treated very well by my host institution (UCSB). One thing they have here that is lacking at ANU is cheap short-term visitor accommodation. The accommodation for visiting fellows at UCSB has a communal kitchen where academics (and their families) from around the world mingle every evening. It has been a great experience and makes it easy for UCSB academics to attract collaborators.

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Comment by Brett Lidbury
11am 6 Mar 2019

Many happy returns for this Sunday Brian.