After a busy start to 2016, it is difficult to believe that the first quarter of the year is over and that first semester teaching break is already upon us.
The ANU Council met today, and one of the topics discussed was the University's Socially Responsible Investment policy. As a result of that policy, we don't invest in companies whose primary business is coal, gambling, tobacco or pornography, and we have taken steps to reduce the carbon intensity of our portfolio.
If you are interested, there is a more detailed report available on the University website http://bit.ly/1MFpq1f.
In summary, as a result of changes to our investment approach and in the ASX, the University's investments in carbon intensive industries have been reduced over the past 18 months. We will continue to look at methods available to simultaneously meet our obligations of achieving a high and stable return on the investment portfolio and decreasing the CO2 intensity.
One of the great joys of my job is being able to get out and meet people across the University. Over the past two weeks, I've had a busy schedule meeting VIP visitors as well as some of our amazing students and staff.
One of the highlights was a debate organised by Woroni on whether the classroom has a place in the 21st century. I found myself in a spirited discussion with students and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Marnie Hughes-Warrington, in front of a lively audience in the China in the World theatre. My congratulations to the organisers for a great event on a topic of interest to everyone at ANU.
It was also wonderful to speak at the Griffin Hall commencement and to welcome new members to the non-residential college. I'm a strong believer in the incredible experience that living on campus provides to our residential students, and believe Griffin Hall is a great way to share that experience with students who don't live on campus.
It has also been a great pleasure recently to welcome to campus the Finance Minister of Indonesia His Excellency Professor Bambang Brodjonegoro, the Finance Minister of India the Hon Mr Arun Jaitley, and the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet Admiral Scott H Swift. All three countries are crucial to Australia and the high-level visits demonstrate the depth of ANU engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. We also received a visit from the Foreign Minister of Iran, His Excellency Dr Javad Zarif, and we were deeply honoured to host a public lecture for him at Llewellyn Hall.
Finally, some of you will have noticed a new temporary building across from the Chancelry on the lawns of the H.C. Coombs building. This is a traditional Mongolian Ger, kindly donated to the University by the President of Mongolia His Excellency Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. Mongolia's Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Chuluunhuu Batlai presented the Ger to the University and even came along to help a team of skilled workers with its construction. The Ger will remain in place for the next couple of weeks. I encourage everyone to take a look inside and to admire the skilled work involved in constructing a Ger, using only rope and twine and with no screws or nails. ANU will use the Ger regularly for special events.