VC’S Update – Realising our national mission and a farewell

11 Aug 2023

Hi everyone,  

Last night we had a spectacular event at Llewellyn Hall that we co-hosted with the New Zealand High Commission called "Mana Wahine - Celebrating thespirit, leadership and excellence of women".A conversation moderated by Laura Tingle that included former New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, actress Rena Owen, swimmer Bronte Campbell, our Chancellor, Julie Bishop - highlighting the journeys of these four remarkable women from obscurity to the top of their respective professions. I found particularly interesting some similarities in certain aspects of everyone's stories, but also the generally positive changes that have occurred in society over the 40-year span in ages across the panellists. It was striking how each panellist had an important female mentor that helped them early in their career.  

On Wednesday last week we hosted another big event - The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice: A Dialogue - in partnership with 25 Australian universities.This event, which once again shows the power of ANU to steward the national conversation and its responsibility to play a leadership role in the sector, will be one that we'll remember for a long time - the opportunity to connect students and thepublic from across Australia for an in-depth dialogue about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum. I was most impressed by the quality of the panel's commentary and insights as they covered diverse perspectives regarding the Voice to Parliament. Thank you all who attended and tuned-in for coming together to mark this critical moment in Australia's history. You can watch the livestream here.  

Congratulations to the ANU Reporter website forwinning GOLD at the 2023 Melbourne Design Awards. It was also shortlisted for an International Design Award and received an Honourable Mention in its category. I find I often refer to a Reporter article in my blogs, which attests to the high calibre of journalism and investigative thinking that the team produce on a weekly basis. Please join me in congratulating the Reporter team on this outstanding achievement. 

The ANU has been awarded a total of almost $10m in funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to bolster the nation's capabilities in nuclear and radiation science, and plant biosecurity. This funding will be used to establish two ANU-led ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centres (we got twoout of the eight awards, and we were the only university to receive two awards!) which will help train workers in industries vital to Australia's future. This achievement recognises the commitment of ANU to look to the future, drive innovation, cultivate knowledge and create solutions that address the complex challenges of our time. Congratulations to all involved! 

ANU has the largest Pacific studies program in the world, and on Sunday I pack my bags for a trip to Fiji and Papua New Guinea where I look forward to connecting with Pacific-based alumni and friends of ANU. Pacific scholarship is vitally important to Australia and our region, and we are most proud of our close partnerships in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. It will be the first trip of an ANU Vice Chancellor to PNG (and I made the first ever VC trip to Fiji back in 2019), and I look forward to updating you all on my trip when I return.  

Looking closer to home, andour commitment to deliver a great campus experience for our students, this week I learnt that ANU Thrive'sKitchen Garden Program was announced as a finalist of the 2023 Green Gown Awards Australasia, under the Student Engagement category. If you didn't already know - the Kitchen Garden program aims to bring our community together to share and connect with nature, each other and to enjoy growing and eating fresh, healthy food.I am sure that everyone's parents will be pleased that our students are eating their vegetables. Well done team.  

This week I announced the news that Professor Sally Wheeler, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International & Corporate) will be leaving ANU in November to become the next Vice-Chancellor of Birkbeck, University of London. Sally joined us six years ago as Dean of the ANU College of Law, and has been an invaluable member of the ANU community ever since. So, it is with sadness for ANU, but also great pride in Sally's prestigious new role, that I share this news. Birkbeck will be in great hands when Sally commences there in January next year. Congratulations Sally, andthank you for all you've done for ANU.  

I also have an executive recruitment update for you all. I'm pleased to see that the search for our next Vice-Chancellor is progressing to plan with a recent round of interviews completed, with the process moving closer to a decision point in late August - September. The People & Culture team are working hard to plan for other vital roles our University will need with the planned departures of two of our Deputy Vice-Chancellors (International & Corporate and Research & Innovation). The team is developing an agile plan to meet the needs of the University and have the right people in the right roles to lead key portfolios through this transition period. This may include interim appointments and plans to enable our new Vice-Chancellor to lead these key appointments to build their leadership team. I want to assure our community that we remaindeeply committed to providing the right support structures and planning to enable a smooth transition and successful commencement for our new Vice-Chancellor.   

We are saying good-bye to our son Adrian (and ANU alumnus) this weekend who is off to do a Master's degree in the US with a nice meal on Saturday night before we both need to get to the airport on Sunday morning for our respective trips.   

Enjoy your weekend.