I was very proud this week to lead the University in celebrating our 70th anniversary. It was a great honour for me to stand alongside three of our former Vice-Chancellors and members of our community past and present to reflect back on all that we have achieved in these past seven decades. I was especially delighted to hear from Megan Stoyles, Dr Elizabeth Reid AO, Professor Bruce Chapman AM, Professor Mick Dodson AM and Professor Penny Sackett who each shared very special memories of our University, its evolution through time and the role we have played in the social transformation of our nation.
As I said in my speech, our birthday is a day both to celebrate our achievements and to look forward. We are a young institution, and those at ANU today have the privilege of writing the next chapter of this University's history, and the responsibility of handing to coming generations an institution even greater than the one we have inherited. I was pleased to announce some initiatives that set us on the path of building the university to which we all aspire. These include:
- providing substantial start-up grants for high-potential early and mid-career researchers, enabling us to compete against any institution in the world;
- changing the way that ANU admits students by considering the whole person, not just their ATAR score;
- establishing the award of Distinguished Educator to recognise great teaching;
- launching a Post-Doctoral Fellowship program for Indigenous PhD graduates designed to develop academic careers and lead to faculty positions;
- extending the residential experience by providing any student who wants to live on campus the opportunity to do so, including postgraduate students and students with children by 2021;
- committing to revitalising Union Court as the beating heart of the University community.
Having the chance to meet so many of our students, staff and our alumni is one of the best things about my job. This week, I met many new people at the 70th Anniversary celebrations. I was also fortunate to spend an hour with a surprisingly large group of students at 'Burgers with Brian', which I hope will be the first of many student catch up forums. Hosted by ANUSA, I hope to make these 'catch ups' a monthly occurrence. The theme of this month's event was university funding. There were some great questions raised around how ANU is funded, the pros and cons of fee deregulation and a discussion around flagship courses. We also talked about the School of Culture, History and Language, the National Institutes Grant and how can improve access to the University. These forums provide a great opportunity for me to engage with our students and I encourage you to come along to the next one on 30 August 2016 if you can, where the topic will be student accommodation.
This week we also announced that the University had signed a 30-year concession agreement with investment management firm H.R.L Morrison and Co over nine ANU student residences - Burton & Garran Hall, Graduate House, Toad Hall, Ursula Hall, Davey Lodge, Lena Karmel Lodge, Kinloch Lodge and Warrumbul Lodge and the new SA5 residence. The agreement will give ANU, which retains ownership of the buildings, the opportunity to upgrade and improve student accommodation, help meet the strong demand for student accommodation, and keep tariffs affordable. I announced on Monday that from next year, all student residences at ANU will have pastoral care that matches the best on campus - with a ratio of 25 students to each Senior Resident.
In case you missed it we also welcomed home internationally-renowned music scholar Professor Malcolm Gillies AM, who has returned to ANU to lead the School of Music while we finalise community consultations on the school and work to appoint a permanent head of school. Professor Gilles has previously been Deputy Vice-Chancellor of ANU, and has served as president of both the Australian Academy of Humanities and the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. You can listen to his interview with 666 ABC Canberra's Alex Sloan.
Finally, we recently lost a great friend to this university. Professor John Love arrived ANU in 1973 as a researcher and is recognised as pioneer of fibre optics which have revolutionised communications over the past 40 years. He was a brilliant researcher, gifted teacher, extraordinarily generous in every way and a friend of mine. I know he will be deeply missed by all who knew him. ANU will be holding a memorial service to honour John's life at 10.30am, Wednesday 17 August at University House. If you would like to attend please register so we can make sure we can accommodate everyone.
with best wishes