Vice-Chancellor's 2022 message to alumni

Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor John Dewar AO, wraps up 2022’s highlights both on campus and across our alumni community.

We’re approaching the end of another busy year. It’s been wonderful to see so many of our alumni reconnect with the University during 2022 and take advantage of the opportunity to spend time together following the disruption caused by the pandemic over the last few years.

I’d like to highlight a few of our achievements from across the year. I know our alumni are always proud to hear about La Trobe’s success, and we’ve had some terrific results in 2022 that show how we’re continuing to make a difference.


There was strong demand for La Trobe courses. The University increased the number of offers made to school leavers through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) compared to 2021, making offers to more than 4000 students in January 2022.


It was a privilege to hold our first in-person event since the pandemic, the Distinguished Alumni Awards.

The Awards recognise eminent La Trobe University alumni in Australia and around the world who have demonstrated outstanding professional or community service achievements, inspirational leadership in their field, and exceptional human qualities.

Our Distinguished Alumni Award recipients stepped up to the challenge of the difficult times we’ve faced in the way that La Trobe alumni always have. They focused on what La Trobe people have always done, which is to make as big a difference as we can.

We also unveiled a $10M dollar plan to redevelop the Shepparton campus in partnership with the Australian Government. The plans included a future-proof design with an expanded library, modern study spaces, a community events and gallery space, and an expanded Ngarrapna space, where Indigenous students can study and access specialised support.

Our Shepparton campus already produces around 100 graduates a year in areas such as nursing, education, business, arts and social work. Most of these graduates go on to work in the local region.


La Trobe received a monumental gift of $45M from the late Olga Tennison to support the work of the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC). The Centre’s research is internationally renowned for helping to improve social, economic and community participation and inclusion for people with autism. Olga’s gift is endowed and will be held in perpetuity to support the work of OTARC.

Olga’s gift shows the extraordinary outcomes that La Trobe’s researchers can achieve when paired with the passions of a generous supporter.


From late April to early May, 600 new La Trobe alumni celebrated at our regional graduation ceremonies.

We also welcomed 11 new First Nations graduates of the Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy for First Nations workers to our global alumni community.

It’s been wonderful to see so many new graduates cross the stage, and we applaud their dedication and resilience over the last few years.


Our Mildura and Shepparton campuses officially hit Net Zero – the first Victorian university campuses to accomplish this feat.

We’ve set ambitious sustainability goals, and we’re achieving them through timely actions – our staff, students, and communities will benefit for years to come.


La Trobe alumni, friends of the University, staff, and donors made it possible for La Trobe to reach our $100M fundraising goal for the Make the Difference campaign. The philanthropic campaign has been critical in supporting the University’s most impactful research – as well as breaking down financial barriers to higher education for many students, especially in regional areas.

I’d like to thank every member of the generous La Trobe community who had the belief and foresight to support our important work.


At a much needed time during the winter months, La Trobe alumni Dr Sara James and Dr Juliane Roemhild introduced us to bibliotherapy, showing how reading can help us, and why we should be reading with others for maximum wellbeing.


La Trobe rose through the ranks of one of the world’s most prestigious global university assessments, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). The University is now in the top 300 universities in the world – rising five positions to 296, making it the University’s best result since the ARWU ranking was established in 2003.

Our talented academics work incredibly hard, and their strong research outputs were a major factor in this fantastic result.


We established two new research institutes to address two of the most pressing issues facing Australia and the world. The Care Economy Research Institute will deliver programs and workforce training for sectors including aged care, disability, and family services. The La Trobe Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and Food will deliver solutions for sustainable and nutritious food production in our increasingly resource- and climate-constrained world.

We also heard from some of our most successful alumni – the Maldives' first female assistant auditor general, a member of the Senate of Pakistan, and Victoria's most senior solicitor – who shared insights into their successes and their advice for future female leaders.


The La Trobe University Art History Alumni Chapter celebrated 25 years of the Rae Alexander Lecture. This is always one of the most highly anticipated events of the year for the Chapter.

It was also Occupational Therapy Month, an important time to celebrate those in the health sector. La Trobe produces many leading Occupational Therapists, and it was wonderful to hear four of them reflect on their important careers.

In October, our teacher training program, Nexus, which helps to train teachers in hard-to-staff regional and low SES schools, won a national employability award for its impact in addressing teacher shortages.


The University was named as a partner in a huge project with NASA to develop ways to provide the next generation of space explorers with nutritious foods.

We also had the privilege of reconnecting with La Trobe’s earliest alumni who commenced their studies between 1967 and 1972. We held a special reunion at Union Hall on the Bundoora campus, where alumni were able to rekindle bonds and reminisce about their time at the University and the years that have passed.


During December we have welcomed more than 1700 new graduates across the stage at our Bundoora campus graduation programs. It was fantastic to celebrate their success together. I look forward to seeing what they accomplish in the future.

In closing

That’s a summary of some of our achievements this year. During 2022, we have also been able to make a university education more accessible. This year, our supporters have helped us with scholarships for care leavers and students with disabilities, supported disadvantaged students from regional areas to attend our Bendigo campus, and provided a pathway program for students from TAFE to study at our campus in Albury-Wodonga.

We’re so very grateful to those of you in our alumni community who’ve been able to support our philanthropic campaign and help us to continue the La Trobe tradition of making a difference.

I wish every one of you a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to seeing you all in the new year.

With best wishes,

Professor John Dewar AO

Vice-Chancellor and President of La Trobe University

Want to keep up to date on alumni successes across the year? Follow Alumni News stories here.