Green Paper, Town Halls & Arsenal…
I am keen to use my newsletter to publicise forthcoming events of interest to staff across UNSW and to report important achievements by our staff. If you are aware of any events you would like mentioned, or of staff achievements of general interest, please do send through an email to: email@example.com and I will include them in the newsletter.
I found out about one such event by chance when I was walking through the campus last week and heard music coming from the Clancy auditorium. I walked in to find a rehearsal of the UNSW Wind and Symphony Orchestra in progress. You can hear their performance of a programme including Shostakovich, Schubert and Rimsky Korsakov on Friday May 22nd at 7pm in the Clancy Auditorium. Having heard a bit of the rehearsal I can guarantee you an enjoyable evening and tickets, which are $20, will be available at the door from 6.30pm. I will definitely be there and I hope that many staff, students and their friends will attend.
This email newsletter is as previously quite long. If you want to read the content, but prefer not to scroll through a lengthy email you have the option of reading it on a blog site: http://www.president.unsw.edu.au, which also enables you to submit feedback, questions or comments.
Strategic Planning Consultation 2015-25 & Green Paper
Following the initial consultation on our 2015-25 Strategy a Green paper was released last week. The Green Paper is not a strategy – it is a discussion paper based upon over 3,000 suggestions received from staff, students and alumni which is intended to stimulate debate and feedback. It will guide the preparation of a White Paper and then our final strategy. You can access the Green Paper via the website: https://www.2025.unsw.edu.au.
The website includes links for written feedback and to register for workshops in 9 areas. In addition I am hosting a series of open forums or ‘Town Hall Meetings’ to hear feedback and comments over the next few weeks. I held the first Town Hall Meeting on Monday May 20th and over 300 staff attended. I was delighted by the quality of the discussion, the raft of ideas that were raised, the questions asked and the suggestions made which ranged across the full scope of the Green Paper. You can click below to register for future Town Hall Meetings:
- 27 May 2015, 9-10am | Law Theatre
- 16 June 2015, 9-10am | Law Theatre
- 29 May 2015, 9.30-10.30am | (For UNSW Canberra)
The UNSW strategy that is emerging is extremely ambitious and will inevitably lead to challenging questions about how we best deploy our resources and generate the level of funding we will need to deliver it during the next decade. Your feedback on the Green Paper will be valued and appreciated and I hope to see you at one of the forums.
UNSW response to international disasters
I was deeply saddened by the recent events in Nepal. The earthquakes caused major damage to the country’s infrastructure, flattening entire villages and destroying century old buildings. Many thousands of people were made homeless across the country and there was terrible loss of life. Numerous international agencies and governments including Australia have provided support for the immediate relief efforts and for rebuilding the damaged infrastructure and I know that many of our staff have donated to the relief and recovery effort directly to organisations involved. This disaster in Nepal, following on from the Vanuatu cyclone in March prompted me to explore ways in which UNSW can respond promptly and appropriately to crisis events of this type. UNSW provides immediate support and counseling to staff and students who are directly affected. We also have a staff giving program (https://www.hr.unsw.edu.au/forms/workplace-giving.pdf) which can be used in these sorts of circumstances to provide an easy way for staff to donate to relief in the immediate crisis. In addition I am intending to establish a "UNSW Disaster Recovery Fund” to seed funds for academic initiatives involving research or education, to assist communities in the longer term recovery phase after a major event. I will provide further information about this in the near future.
UNSW has joined The Conversation.
I am pleased to let you know that the University has joined “The Conversation” as a full member. This means that we are joining other universities and institutions in providing financial support as well as continuing to contribute articles written by our academics. I know that many of you have been writing for The Conversation since its launch in 2011. Indeed, I understand that UNSW is currently the most read contributor, having generated nearly 1170 articles and attracted 13.5 million reads. For those not familiar with it, The Conversation is a not-for-profit independent news and analysis website featuring articles written by university based academics. It claims a global audience of some 2.5 million visitors each month, and a reach of more than 20 million through creative commons republication. It involves over 20,000 expert authors, drawn from many institutions, and prides itself on informing public opinion through evidence-based content. Originating in Australia, it launched a UK edition in 2012, a US edition in 2014, and in an important step has just launched in Africa. We will be hosting an editor-in-residence day in the near future, which will include briefing and training by editors from The Conversation for those who would like to contribute. In the meantime you can sign up to The Conversation's daily newsletter here: https://theconversation.com/au/newsletter and register to write here: https://theconversation.com/become-an-author.
Universitas 21 Santiago, Chile.
Earlier this month I attended the Universitas 21 (U21) meeting in Santiago, Chile. UNSW is a member of this international network of approximately 25 universities, which collaborate on research and facilitate student exchange programs. A valuable aspect of the meeting in Chile was that as well as including university Presidents, it involved some 50 student representatives from the partner universities. Our students were ably represented by Ben Heenan, Chair of Arc and Billy Bruffey, President of our Student Representative Council. The students considered the topic 'Strengthening our University's place in the community' and encouraged the U21university leaders to fund community initiatives, which could have an impact on their local communities. The hosts, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile developed the student’s leadership and activist skills by drawing on recent experiences of the Chilean student movement. They also provided a truly outstanding entertainment programme of dance, opera and choral music performed by their staff and students.
We can celebrate two UNSW awards. A team of UNSW students won the U21 Global Ingenuity Challenge for “Project Step City”, a vision for harnessing the power of city pedestrians and mobile technologies to make Sydney CBD a more vibrant, safer and eco-friendly district for pedestrians. It was a particular pleasure to see Dr Rob Forage, Director of UNSW Global presented with the U21 award for Internationalisation “for his commitment to and leadership in international education, transnational education and English language preparation for both students and teachers”. The award recognised Rob’s innovative approach to foundation programmes, tailoring and adapting them to local communities in places like Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam and overcoming significant hurdles to provide educational pathways for overseas students.
School and Centre visits
My programme of School and Centre visits is now reaching a conclusion. In the last few weeks I have had fascinating sessions with the School of Mining Engineering, the School of the Arts and Media, the School of Humanities, the School of Social Sciences, the Centre for Quantum Computing, the School of Optometry and Vision Science, the Medical School (School of Public Health & Community Medicine, School of Women’s & Children’s Health, Prince of Wales Clinical School, St. George & Sutherland Clinical School, St. Vincent’s Clinical School, South Western Sydney Clinical School and the Rural Clinical School), the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy, the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, the School of Education, the Social Policy Research Centre, the Centre for Social Research in Health and the School of Law. I have also visited two UNSW affiliated organisations – the Garvan Institute and NIDA. By the end of next week I will have completed over 50 visits and I will have achieved my objective of finding out about activity across the breadth of UNSW, meeting with most of our 6,000 staff in small or large groups and hearing first hand your ideas and comments on the current status of UNSW, as well as our emerging 2015-25 strategy. It has been an exhaustive and time-consuming programme but worth every minute. I have been thrilled by the quality of research and teaching in so many diverse areas and delighted by the energy, commitment and enthusiasm of staff and students.
Achievements: Gates Scholarship & Chair UN Forum
I was pleased to hear that one of our alumni, Dr Aditi Vedi has been awarded the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study at Cambridge University. I understand that competition from applicants is fierce with only 1.5% of applicants being successful. Dr Vedi, who graduated from UNSW with a Bachelor of Medical Science and Surgery, will use the scholarship to research childhood Leukaemia and explore the role that quiescent cancer stem cells play in refractory and relapsed disease. Professor Megan Davis, Director of the Indigenous Law Centre at UNSW, was recently elected Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The UNPFII is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. I know that Megan will have a big impact in this important role. Please do let me know about other successes and awards (firstname.lastname@example.org).
UNSW Professorial Inaugural Lecture
The first ever UNSW Professorial Inaugural Lecture was held on Tuesday May 12thwith over 400 staff, students and alumni attending. Professor Darren Bagnall, Head of School, Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering spoke on “Solar Energy; minerals, materials and ages of Enlightenment” Professor Klaus Regenauer-Lieb, Head of School, Petroleum Engineering spoke on “Unconventional Resources; the moon landing mission in the energy and mineral space”. We were able to hear two outstanding academics talk about their careers, their lives and their research. There was also some good natured disagreement on aspects of future energy which added to the occasion. A reception after the lectures provided an excellent opportunity for networking across the university – I was particularly pleased that there were attendees from all eight UNSW Faculties. The programme of inaugural lectures will continue during the course of this year - all of our newly promoted and recruited Professors will be invited to deliver a lecture to mark their achievement. These are intended to be celebratory and informative occasions open to all staff, students and our alumni, providing an opportunity to hear some of our leading academics talk about their lives, careers and academic achievements in an accessible format. Each event will be followed by a drinks reception, which will provide an excellent forum for networking across the University.
We have two forthcoming Inaugural lectures; the first will be by Professor Pierre Andre Del-Moral from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, on June 1st at 5pm. The lecture is entitled "Particle methodologies: a bridge across mathematics, physics, biology and information theory.” It will be held in the Council Chamber, The Chancellery at 5pm. The second will be delivered by Professor Russell Boyce the Chair for Space Engineering and UNSW Canberra. The lecture is entitled In-Orbit Space Science and Technology – Capability Development at UNSW Canberra for the Australian context and will be held at UNSW Canberra at ADFA.
You are invited to register as soon as possible via www.unsw.edu.au/PIL2015
My hope is that this programme of lectures will be an important feature of the UNSW calendar and I encourage you all to attend whenever you can.
Travel, Sport & Culture
Our sailing career is still on hold, but Chris and I are beginning to take advantage of being in Australia by doing a bit of travelling at weekends. Our daughter is currently living in the USA and visited Australia for the first time recently. As I had expected she loved Sydney and was impressed by the UNSW campus. To escape the rain we went to Melbourne for a couple of days to see Australia’s “2nd City” – I realise I am entering dangerous territory, but there is no real competition! This weekend we drove a couple of hours south of Sydney to Gerringong. The sun was shining and it was wonderful spending time on the beautiful beach. During my School visits in the last week a few Chelsea football (soccer) supporters have gloated about winning the English Premier league. I have had to explain to them that the elite trophy is the FA Cup, which I confidently expect Arsenal to secure on May 30th. I am sure that everyone at UNSW will be fascinated to know that if Arsenal do win the FA Cup again, it will be ‘our’ 12th victory – more than any other team. The Sydney Writers Festival is now underway and I enjoyed hearing Evie Wyld, author of “All the Birds, Singing” in conversation on Tuesday evening, at an event hosted in the Io Myers Studio by our Faculty of Art and Social Sciences. I hope to get to more events during the Festival and I am looking forward to “Vivid Sydney” which commences on May 22nd. Finally, the next performance of Australia Ensemble is May 23rd at 8pm in the Clancy Auditorium at UNSW (http://www.music.unsw.edu.au/australia-ensemble/subscription-concerts/spirits-and-shadows-may-23-8pm). It features Musgrave, Bruch and Beethoven and will I know be another superb performance by the Ensemble.
My best wishes to all, Ian