May 2017

Welcome to the month of May.

It’s been a very busy start to the month, with the Federal Government proposing wide-ranging changes to our sector. These are a mixture of good and bad – with increased student charges and a significant efficiency dividend applied to University budgets heading the negative side of the ledger. We are still working to fully understand what it all means for La Trobe. I will speak with you in more detail at our staff meetings later this month.

Taking La Trobe to the world

I’ve just returned from a productive trip to India, which served to strengthen our already strong connections to this remarkable country.

The highlight of the brief visit was a ‘Women in Leadership’ seminar moderated by Professor Amalia Di Iorio, with a very distinguished panel of Indian women leaders – including Meenakshi Gopinath (former Principal of Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi, and a recent recipient of a La Trobe honorary doctorate) and Kiran Bedi, currently Governor of Pondicherry and a past visitor to La Trobe. The evening was very well attended and attracted significant publicity.

During the visit, I also launched 14 PhD scholarships valued at AUD$500,000 for students in India to undertake PhD programs at La Trobe’s partner university, JSS University in Mysore. I also signed MOUs with Amity University, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and OP Jindal Global University. These are some of the most innovative teaching and research institutions in India today.

I also announced the creation of a new scholarship for young Indian women who experience economic disadvantage. While Indian students add greatly to the cultural diversity of life on campus, the vast majority are, by necessity, from comfortable backgrounds. This reduces the socio-economic diversity of our student body, and does not in any way reflect the diversity of the Indian population as a whole. This new scholarship is a small step to redress that balance.

India, and South Asia, will continue to be a strategic priority for this University. We have seen significant growth in student demand from this region – not just from India, but also from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. This is due in large part to the exceptional work of our LTI Office in Delhi, led by Amit Malhotra, who so ably organised and supported our visit.

Reflecting on The House of Mirrors

The House of Mirrors installation in Bendigo, which closed recently, has been a great success. It attracted 22,500 visitors in just three weeks, comparable to, or better than, the numbers who visited House of Mirrors when it was in Hobart, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide. The La Trobe Art Institute (LAI) was the official education partner for the installation and 400 people attended our associated public lectures and events. Warm congratulations to our Professor of Practice and LAI Director, Karen Quinlan, for bringing this unique experience to Bendigo.

The artists, Keith Courtney and Christian Wagstaff, were so thrilled by the reception for their creation in Bendigo that they wrote an open thank you letter to the people of Bendigo and the LAI, saying that Bendigo had been their favourite Australian venue. I want to thank all of the academics involved in our public programs and LAI staff for making House of Mirrors such a successful venture.

The Hon. Paul Keating packs Melbourne Recital Centre for Ideas and Society

On Friday 28 April we hosted a remarkable Ideas and Society event at the Melbourne Recital Centre with The Hon. Paul Keating and Allan Gyngell AO. More than 900 people came along to hear the former Prime Minister’s insights into our role in Asia in the Trump Era. He didn’t disappoint, entertaining the audience with his trademark irreverence and wit, while outlining with razor sharp intellect and simplicity the foreign policy direction a modern Australia should forge with our neighbours.

I want to thank Emeritus Professor and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow Robert Manne for the key role he played in organising this event, as well as Professor Nick Bisley for facilitating an excellent discussion on the night.

You can watch the full event on the La Trobe University YouTube channel.

Watch this space for news of similarly exciting events planned for later in the year.

Michael Kirby event celebrates 25 years of Law School and ARCSHS

The following week, on Thursday 4 May a special Bold Thinking event was held in partnership with La Trobe University's Law School and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), who both mark their 25th anniversary this year.

Renowned jurist and former Australian High Court judge the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG gave a keynote address exploring the legal and moral complexity that lies at the intersection of health, law and sexuality. He offered a powerful argument in support of marriage equality.

It was the second high-profile La Trobe event within a week to sell out - 600 people filled the NGV’s Great Hall to hear a fascinating and enlightening discussion that included excellent contributions from our own Professor Gary Dowsett and Professor Anne-Maree Farrell, from ARCSHS and the La Trobe Law School respectively. This, once again, highlighted our ability to attract inspiring thought leaders to discuss the pressing issues of our time.

You can watch the full event on the La Trobe University YouTube channel.

Work officially underway on new Engineering building for Bendigo

The first sod has officially been turned and ground works have started on our new $22 million engineering building at the Bendigo campus. The four-storey steel and glass building is expected to be finished by the middle of next year. It is part of the $50 million Bendigo Campus Transformation Program, which will include a library extension, a new entry plaza and bus route through the campus

Ground-breaking new partnership with Silicon Valley R&D leaders PARC

We recently signed a new game-changing partnership agreement with Silicon Valley based  R&D company PARC, who are known for their history of innovation in computer vision, material science, robotics and security. We’re excited to bring their expertise to La Trobe and to Australia in coming months.

PARC will help our student entrepreneurs transform their ideas into reality. In a two-day workshop hosted under the La Trobe Accelerator Program our students will have unrivalled access to PARC’s industry expertise and world-class researchers, to help them advance their ideas, conquer challenges and understand the complexities around funding and marketing of new business ideas.

This partnership cements our reputation as an emerging force in innovation technology and builds on our strong industry partnerships and strategic alliances with leading national and global companies like Optus, SAP and Cisco.

Have your say on our Strategic Plan

You will have recently noticed the launch of a discussion paper to kick start consultation on our new strategic direction. With the challenges of digital disruption, a new Government agenda for change in the University sector, and a new brand platform for La Trobe, this is a great opportunity to have your say on where we should focus our energy.

I value your ideas and hope you are able to make the time to help play a part in defining our future direction. We are currently developing an online consultation tool, which we will launch very soon.

Medical School campaign continues – a new economic report

We aren’t giving up on our campaign to convince the Federal Government to allocate capital and medical training places to our proposed Murray Darling Medical School.

We’re working hard to convince politicians, department officials and the community of the merits of our case and now have the hard economic data to support it. Our modelling shows the MDMS would be two to three times more cost effective than the city universities in turning country kids into country doctors.

One interesting statistic from our economic modelling is that, if approved, the MDMS would create about 1900 extra country doctors between now and 2050.

2018 recruitment underway

It may not yet be end of Semester One, but we are already starting to focus on recruiting students for study next year.

The first big recruitment event for Year 12 students, the VCE and Careers Expo, was held over the weekend, and prospective students and their families were among the first to see our new brand execution – All Kinds of Clever.

There was a pleasing growth of interest in La Trobe this year compared to last, to the extent that the team ran out of pens, bags and forms capturing personal information, and had to send for reinforcements. Well done to the Marketing and Recruitment teams for their hard work, and to our wonderful Student Ambassadors who work so hard at these events, and who unfailingly convey a very positive impression of La Trobe.

Welcome Prof Richard Larkins: our new Chancellor

It’s official – experienced University leader Professor Richard Larkins is the seventh Chancellor of La Trobe University. I’m delighted that the respected medical researcher, physician and University administrator has taken up this important role with us.

Richard brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to La Trobe. He has now served Victoria’s three oldest Universities, as Vice-Chancellor of Monash University and before that as Dean of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

I look forward very much to working with Richard over the coming years.

Rankings results – strengthening our position as a top young global University

We recently received more good news on the rankings front. We have jumped two spots to be placed 56 in the 2017 Times Higher Education (THE) 200 Under 50 Rankings – further proof of our commitment to excellence in teaching and research.

We are now firmly entrenched in the world’s top 400 universities as measured by three major ranking agencies: The Times Higher Education, the QS and the ARWU.

Earlier this year our subjects were also rated amongst the global elite in the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject - five of La Trobe’s subjects were ranked in the top 100: Hospitality and Leisure Management, Archaeology, Nursing, Sociology, and sports-related subjects. Well done to all.

All Staff Briefings take place this month

I invite you to join me and senior colleagues for the All Staff Briefings, which are taking place during May on all campuses. These sessions are aimed at informing staff about La Trobe’s strategic direction, challenges, successes and priorities. It’s also a chance for senior leaders to connect with and listen to staff - so I hope to see you there.

The May dates, outlined below, will also form part of the consultation process to inform the University’s next five year strategic plan.

Albury-Wodonga Campus

Wed 17 May, 12.30pm – 2.00pm

Main Lecture Theatre (Rm 6101)

Melbourne Campus

Fri 19 May, 12.30pm – 2.00pm

Live session: LIMS1 101 – Hoogenraad Theatre

Video conference Link: Eastern Lecture Theatre 5

Bendigo Campus

Mon 22 May, 10.30am – 12.00pm

Circular Lecture Theatre

Shepparton Campus

Mon 22 May, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

Learning Room 2, SHS-111

Mildura Campus

Fri 26 May, 12.30pm – 2.00pm

Brian Grogan Lecture Theatre

Have a great month,

Regards

John