VC's update - Stargazing and Reconciliation Week

25 May 2018

Hi everyone,

This has been a huge week for ANU. On Wednesday night, more than 3,000 people attended the Canberra stargazing party on Fellows Oval and helped us to break the Guinness World Record! We would have broken our record if only 8,000 people across Australia had been stargazing on Wednesday evening - but as it happened, more than 40,000 people picked up their telescopes! Thanks and congratulations to you all. It's a great achievement for ANU and particular thanks have to go to the dedicated volunteers, staff and students for supporting this wonderful event. The team in SCAPA were terrific as always, our partners at ABC great to work with, and I think that Dr Brad Tucker and his colleagues have inspired many a budding astrophysicist - and you know I think that is an outcome worth celebrating!

I was delighted to see the carnival atmosphere on campus before I headed up to Parliament House to help our political leaders with their stargazing. This was a special occasion and wonderfully bipartisan of our pollies to unite in helping break the world record together.

Today marks the beginning of Reconciliation Week, which is always a significant time for the University. This afternoon I was delighted to host our Indigenous leaders from ANU and the community for lunch with members of the University Council and Executive, and to listen to a superb lecture by Dr Virginia Marshall, our inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow.

Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the incredible richness and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the fundamental contribution it makes to the national community we are. In that vein, I am very pleased to announce that the University has launched our new Core Cultural Learning; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia Foundation Course (CCL). This course has been developed by AIATSIS and adapted for our community. We are the very first university in Australia to adopt this program and I am very proud that ANU continues to lead in building greater awareness of the vast history and cultural heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Make sure you take time in the coming weeks to complete the module.  I suggest getting a group of colleagues to do modules in preparation for a group discussion over morning tea or lunch. It will make you think.

Our Reconciliation events continue throughout the next week. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to sign up for a Heritage Trail Walk, ANU Film Group Screening or join Dr Brad Tucker, Karlie Noon and myself for a discussion on 60,000 years of space. You can see the full program of events and stories here.

Finally, you may have seen various media reports this week relating to partnerships and philanthropy in the university sector, including the ANU. In case anyone is in any doubt about where the University stands, let me make it clear that ANU approaches any partnership or funding opportunity with the same core set of principles. These include retaining, without compromise, our academic integrity, autonomy and freedom, and ensuring that any program has academic merit consistent with our status as one of the world’s great universities.  I am very proud of how this University has had an unwavering commitment to these principles, which underpin every decision of the University Executive and Council. These core principles drive our research excellence and are key to our outstanding global reputation.

Have a good weekend,