VC's update - Strategic planning meetings and other events

27 April 2016

Hi all

It was great last week to have the first of the town hall meetings to discuss the new vision for ANU.

We had about 65 people at each of the sessions, and I was very pleased to see that everyone took part with such enthusiasm, despite an technical issue at the second event.

The theme of the new plan will be Enabling Excellence. It will realise the collective wisdom of the whole university as we move to the future and be a vision and plan that reflects the views of all of us.

I was very interested to see the range of responses - and the words that people chose to describe ANU. I will be fascinated to see how those words change with different groups and over time.

If you haven't come along yet, then please register for one of the upcoming sessions -please see dates and other details below, I would love to see you there.

I was also very pleased to take part in a panel event last week to reinforce the Pledge. For people who missed this event, you will find information about the Pledge on the website. I would encourage everyone to play a part in this by thinking about what you can do to make the campus safer and to create a culture of respect for everyone.

Last week we had Kim Beazley on campus. He spoke to a full house of about 1300 people at Llewellyn Hall about the U.S. election, with a conversation afterwards with the US Ambassador moderated by ABC's Michael Brissenden. His insights into the US election were fascinating and it was wonderful to host him back on campus.

Another event that I was very proud to attend was an event hosted by the French Embassy Residence. It was a ceremony to present the Insignia of Knight in the Order of the Legion of Honour to Professor Serge Tcherkézoff, Head of Partnership of the ANU Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and it was hosted by ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. Needless to say, on behalf of the whole University, I was extremely proud of Professor Tcherkézoff, who was presented with this highly deserved award, and the hosts did the celebratory champagne, particularly well!

We also welcomed on campus many international dignitaries on Thursday for an event recognising the Paris Climate Agreement. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Marnie Hughes-Warrington represented me at the forum which was jointly presented by the ANU Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the Delegation of the European Union to Australia, the French Embassy and the United States Embassy. 

I'll report back next week about my week in Europe, the results of the ANUpoll on Tax and Equity, and the Federal Budget.

With best wishes



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Comment by Geoffrey Robert Ballard
2.30pm 11 May 2016

As a volunteer chaplain at the ANU I attended a Strategy planning forum. I was inspired by the VC's views and comments. But I want to ask, 'As well as the ANU being a place of Excellence are we producing good people'? As a Humanist I want to be a good person. A university education is remiss if it ignores life and the big questions of meaning and purpose. Chaplaincy attempts to open up a space for those questions in a secular university. For me, a valid life stance needs to encompass friendship, belonging and the development of community. A place for that to evolve is vital for our wellbeing - not least in universities, where the leaders of the future are being educated.

In A.C. Grayling's The Good Book (p597) we read,

'Shall we ask, by what commandments should we live?

Or might we better ask, each of ourselves:

What kind of person should we be?

The first question assumes that there is one right answer.

The second assumes that there are many right answers.'

I hope the ANU vision to enable excellence encompasses a search for personal meaning that gives students time to sit and contemplate the big questions of life, and the many right answers that lead to more questions, as part of the research to understand the nature of the universe in which we live. There is a great need for good people.