VC's Update - Crawford, USP and a tapestry unveiling

24 June 2019

Hi everyone,

My Alaskan upbringing means that I've been enjoying the frosty mornings. I love walking around campus, seeing the morning sun sparkling off the frozen ground, with the bare deciduous trees in stark contrast to their native counterparts which are seemingly unperturbed by the cold weather.

A group of us travelled recently to Suva, where I had the chance to meet up with our alumni, the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat, our High Commission, as well as many leaders of the University of the South Pacific (USP).  ANU has been a gateway to the Asia Pacific region since our inception and I was struck by the amazing, but perhaps hidden to most of us, opportunities to collaborate with these outstanding partners. We have a long relationship with USP, but the trip was a promising start to stepping up our relationship of sharing ideas, co-creating research and supporting student and faculty exchange between our two institutions.  When I travel, I am always somewhat overwhelmed by our alumni and the amazing things they get up to. We had more than 60 show up to an event hosted by the High Commission, that included alumni doing everything from working in remote villages for NGOs, to business leaders, the nation's leading academics and one of the Government's ministers. It was a fun and interesting event - and it is so rewarding to see how an ANU experience has empowered so many people to go out and have impact on their own terms. I look forward to returning next year.  

This week also marks the sixth ANU Crawford Australian Leadership Forum, bringing together business, the public sector and academic community to debate the public policy concerns of today. During the two-day program, participants are discussing solutions to address the major challenges facing our country, and foster ideas that will inform the development of public policy for our future. The speakers include leaders from around Australia and around the world - and we can expect the discussions to be part of this week's news.   

Last week, I attended the Future Research Talent Travel Award and Jagadish Endowment Scholarship Ceremony. This event was a celebration of 53 scholars from India and Indonesia who are at ANU for a few months conducting short-term research projects. These students are among their countries' best and brightest, and you have no doubt when you meet them that from this cohort some remarkable future discoveries will be made.  We hope some of them will decide to join our community at some point in the future, and we look forward to seeing their future successes.

Last Thursday, I was excited to unveil Professor Graham Farquhar's Kyoto Prize Tapestry at University House - joining five other tapestries recognising some of the University's major prize winners (including my own). The tapestry, like the other five, was created by our own Valerie Kirk, and is a very personal reflection of decades of work done by Graham. The tapestry celebrates Graham's dedication and creative approach to science, his love of eucalypts and the Australian bush and of course, his foundational work on photosynthesis. It is a work of immense beauty, but also one to reflect on. I encourage you to go see it and the other tapestries on display at University House in the foyer of the Hall.

Finally, our mid-year exam period finished last Friday - a relief for our students and teachers alike. This is a stressful part of the semester so remember to look after yourself, and keep an eye on the people around you. Since becoming Vice-Chancellor, I have come to realise just how important it is to take time to slow down, so make sure you take some time to unwind.  The ANU Counselling team have put together some great advice about managing stress and you can download the free podcast here

I am off this week to the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany. I'll tell you all about it in my next blog.



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Comment by Mahendra
3.30pm 9 Jul 2019

Thank you Vice Chancellor for sharing the highlights your visit to USP and Suva. I was privileged to be part of the audience at the high level panel on "How can higher education prepare our youth to deal with challenges facing the Pacific". Thank you for your eloquent presentation. I was disappointed not to have been part of the gathering at the Australian Embassy, I guess the Embassy does not have a database of all the people involved with ANU and there maybe hundreds like me. I would have liked to share some ideas on greater collaboration with ANU and the Pacific on one of the region's immediate and pressing priorities of climate change impacts and building resilience.