VC's Update - Hard hat required

19 Jan 2024

 I am sitting in my new office and the sun is shining out the window, which does feel like a welcome surprise. It’s been a busy day up here on the third floor as we are having a bit of an open house. We’ve been welcoming our colleagues from the rest of the building to stop by, which has been a great experience. I always like to get to know the people around me and so I am starting small, with this building. And planning big for the rest of campus and other satellite campuses too. 

I think everyone has a moment or 10 in a new role where you wonder what on earth you’ve gotten yourself into, and how to think about what happens next. I might have had that moment earlier this month. And in the middle of that moment, I found a hard hat resting on the counter at our reception desk. I didn’t initially see it amongst the boxes and recycling and in all my moving and cleaning. It turns out the hard hat was a parting gift from Brian, my predecessor. Tucked inside it was a note from him to me. And tucked inside that note was a note to Brian from our 11th Vice-Chancellor, Ian Young.  The first note read: “recommended clothing for all ANU Vice-Chancellors. I am sure it will go well.” The second note read: “Follow Ian’s advice – wear frequently as required.”  

I am pretty certain my plans won't require a hard hat, and I have other ideas about recommended clothing for the job! But there is something quite sweet in knowing that Brian had kept Ian’s original note for almost a decade before passing it on to me. And something touching in knowing that at least my last two predecessors understood not only the huge responsibility of the role but also the need for our humanness to shine through. Now I suspect at this point the hard hat is probably not up to code anymore, but I will keep it and make sure it finds its way to my successor with some additional advice and care.  

For today though, I am thankful for everyone who has worked hard this week to manage the rain and flood damage, to continue our hail remediation efforts, and to make preparations for the academic year to start up again. Hard hats were required!