May 2015

Colleagues,

The arrival of cold mornings is a reminder of just how quickly the year is flying past. It seems hard to believe that it is already May, that we are two thirds of the way through first semester, and that the June exams are already looming on the horizon.

Thanks to everyone for making the time to attend the April all staff briefing session. If you missed the session, please see the recording.

The next all staff meetings are scheduled for mid-June. I, and many members of the senior executive group, will travel to each campus to speak with, and hear from, you all face to face. More details will be sent to you a little closer to the time. 

New shuttle bus service to Bundoora

The State Government has delivered on its election commitment to fund a shuttle bus service from Reservoir Station to Bundoora. This will make a huge difference to staff and students travelling to campus by public transport. In doing so, it should help us to reduce the number of journeys to campus being made by car, and more generally to increase the accessibility of our campus from across Melbourne. We are delighted that the State Government has seen the merit of our proposal, which we have been advocating since 2012. Thanks to all those staff in I&O and elsewhere who have made this possible. The new service will commence in Semester 1, 2016.

Bendigo graduations 

This year's graduations in Bendigo took place today for the first time in the brand new Ulumbarra Theatre. This magnificent new facility is the largest of its kind in regional Australia. In this, as in so many other ways, the City of Bendigo continues to raise the bar for regional Australia, showing what can be achieved through great vision, leadership and sheer perseverance. At last, the University has a venue for our graduation ceremonies that befits the importance of the occasion, and provides our students and their families with a fitting backdrop for all those photographs.

We are delighted that La Trobe will be the 'learning partner' for the new Theatre, expanding our collaboration with the City of Greater Bendigo, building on our partnership with the Bendigo Art Gallery (on which, more below).

Sadly, our planned graduation 1.6 km procession through the streets of Bendigo was called off because of forecasts of atrocious weather – forecasts that turned out to be wildly inaccurate, as the sun beamed down on Bendigo on the day we had planned to process. So much for weather forecasts.

Tis the season for regional graduations 

April was a busy month for graduations, with ceremonies already having taken place in Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga and Mildura.

On Thursday 9 April the Shepparton graduation and prize ceremony featured a speech by David McKenzie, Managing Director of the Opteon Property Group and Chair for the Committee for Greater Shepparton. A total of 81 candidates were presented with their degrees by Dr Peter Vitartas Acting Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Coursework) with 56 graduands from the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce and 25 from the College of Science, Health and Engineering.

The following day 104 Albury-Wodonga graduands had their degrees conferred during a ceremony at the McAuley Arts Centre, along with honorary degree recipient John Richards OAM who was recognised for his significant community service achievements, outstanding personal achievements and inspirational community leadership. This year's graduands included 27 from the College of Arts Social Science and Commerce and 77 from the College of Science, Health and Engineering.

On Thursday 23 April it was Mildura's turn to shine a light on our latest graduands in a ceremony that celebrated the diversity that make La Trobe students so unique.

This was evidenced by the stories of just some of our students including Ofa-Ki-Holeva, the first Samoan/Tongan Social Worker to graduate into the local community, as well as Rosemary and Michael Hilton-Wood, a mother and son who celebrated their graduation on the same day.

Eighty year old Rosemary's decision to pursue her second degree - a Bachelor of Arts – was inspired by a passion for learning, following a successful career in nursing.

A worthy recognition for John Cooke

The Mildura ceremony was also marked by the conferring of an Honorary Degree to Dr John Cooke who was recognised for his contribution to the University and broader community by being awarded a Doctor of Science (honoris causa).

Dr Cooke has been a member of our Mildura Regional Board since 1995. This honour was richly deserved, and John was absolutely delighted. This is the first time that La Trobe has awarded a Mildura community member with the University's most prestigious honour.

Taking La Trobe to South America

I recently visited Chile and Brazil as part of a Victorian Government education mission to Latin America that sought to promote Victoria's research strengths and international student education sector. I was joined by Professor Mike Clarke from the School of Life Sciences, Dr Damian Spencer, the Acting Associate PVC (Coursework) in SHE College and Carolina Rodriguez from La Trobe International, whose assistance in translation and helping us navigate our way around was invaluable.

The trip was a great opportunity to showcase La Trobe's research strengths in areas including sustainable development and climate change, agriculture, and water management and policy.

There are significant opportunities in this region, particularly in Brazil, where a new Science Without Borders agreement will soon be negotiated. There will be a delegation from Latin America coming to Melbourne later this year with the support of the Victorian State Government, and we hope to welcome members of the delegation to our world-class research facilities such as AgriBio and to increase research and training linkages with the region.

Launch of Food and Beverage Growth Plan, Melbourne's North 

Recently, I had much pleasure in joining Mr Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of RMIT University, and representatives of NORTH Link and the Northern Melbourne Regional Development Australia Committee (RDA) to launch the Food and Beverage Growth Plan, Melbourne's North.

Mr Bob McQuillen- Chair, Northern Melbourne RDA Committee; The Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP, Victorian Minister for Industry; Mr Martin Bean Vice-Chancellor, RMIT University; Professor Dewar.

Officially launched by The Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP, Victorian Minister for Industry, the report demonstrates the significant growth potential for the food and beverage sector in Melbourne's North, from $2.6 billion turnover to $5 billion over the next 10 years – creating another 7,000 jobs. It pinpoints the region's areas of competitive advantage, identifies barriers to growth and suggests ways of overcoming them.

La Trobe has played a very important role in the development of this report. We look forward to working with the project partners on implementation of the report's recommendations.

A copy of the report (PDF 2 MB) can be found online. Recently, I had much pleasure in joining Mr Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of RMIT University, and representatives of NORTH Link and the Northern Melbourne Regional Development Australia Committee (RDA) to launch the Food and Beverage Growth Plan, Melbourne's North.

Officially launched by The Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP, Victorian Minister for Industry, the report demonstrates the significant growth potential for the food and beverage sector in Melbourne's North, from $2.6 billion turnover to $5 billion over the next 10 years – creating another 7,000 jobs. It pinpoints the region's areas of competitive advantage, identifies barriers to growth and suggests ways of overcoming them.

La Trobe has played a very important role in the development of this report. We look forward to working with the project partners on implementation of the report's recommendations.

A copy of the report (PDF 2 MB) can be found online.

Exhibiting Culture: Imaging Ned 

I'm delighted that as Higher Education Partner of the Bendigo Art Gallery, we will be offering a special elective subject in connection with the Gallery's current exhibition, Imagining Ned.

Convened by Dr Sue Gillett, Exhibiting Culture: Imagining Ned is a cross-disciplinary subject that will explore the story and cultural myth of the Kelly Gang through a combination of artworks from various mediums and rarely accessed historical items currently on show at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

La Trobe scholars and industry experts including archaeologists, creative artists, writers, historians and lawyers will each contribute their own perspectives in this unique subject.

Exhibiting Culture: Imagining Ned is open to La Trobe students and the general public, and is a great way to shine a spotlight on Bendigo's lively cultural community. It runs over two weekends in late May and early June. Further details are available from Jennifer Uren

The exhibition itself is fantastic, and a real credit to the Gallery staff who have pulled it together.  I would encourage all staff to get along and support this fantastic exhibition in Victoria's best regional Gallery.

See more information on the Imagining Ned exhibition.               

Roman history goes viral 

Congratulations to Rhiannon Evans and Matt Smith, whose podcast 'Emperors of Rome' has sailed past its millionth download. Those of you who have listened to these podcasts will, I'm sure, have become addicted to Matt and Rhiannon's humorous but scholarly approach to their subject matter. They bring their subjects alive in a quite brilliant way, while demonstrating beautifully how serious scholarship can be taken to a broader audience. Bravo!

Recent ranking success 

In closing, we had some very positive news in relation to the University's international rankings as determined by the QS and Times Higher Education schemes. We know that these rankings are important in building the reputation of the University, nationally and internationally. If you haven't already seen them, I encourage you to read each of the media releases we issued last week.

Have a great month.

Regards, John