April 2017

March 2017 will be remembered for a joyful ten days of birthday celebrations for La Trobe’s 50th.  It was wonderful to see current students and staff coming together, and heart-warming to see how enthusiastic our alumni were to reconnect with the University and to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

There were many highlights including: a reunion dinner attended by the first 1967 cohort of students; a re-enactment of the inaugural La Trobe football match (against Monash) to mark the 50th anniversary of our oldest sporting club, the La Trobe University Football Club; a ‘Lawn Lunch’, with food and entertainment, attended by over 1600 staff, students, alumni and friends; a brilliant Hyllus Maris Memorial Lecture delivered by Dr Anita Heiss, with a memorable performance by Isaiah Firebrace; the announcement of iAspire, a new stream of our highly successful Aspire program for Indigenous students, generously supported by The Felton Bequest; the launch of our new Career Ready Advantage initiative for students; and the launch of the Square the Ledger project that will recognise the role and impact of La Trobe’s female graduates, staff and administrators.

We also held a 50th birthday barbeque at every campus, and presented a week-long expo showcasing the University at Queen’s Hall in Parliament House. This included the launches of Cyber Games, and of our new Parliamentary and Government Alumni Chapter. There were also researcher briefings and information sessions for MP’s and their staff outlining the University’s research strengths and industry partnerships.

My warmest thanks to all the many staff who worked so hard over an intense period to make all of these events such a success. A large number of people were exhausted by the end of it, but it was worth it.

Make the Difference

The University took the opportunity of our 50th birthday to launch our first-ever fund raising campaign, Make the Difference, at a dinner held at the Regent Plaza Ballroom. The campaign aims to raise $50 million to support scholarships for disadvantaged students, to invest in research and renew our facilities.

The Campaign is off to a flying start, with donations on the night including $1 million from the Chair of the Campaign Cabinet, Distinguished Alumnus Drew Abercrombie and his wife Shadda;  $1 million from former Swisse CEO and Distinguished Alumnus Radek Sali, and his wife Helen; and a commitment to fund two scholarships a year for women over the next few years by Distinguished Alumnus and Adjunct Professor Ahmed Fahour.

You can read my speech on the night here and find out how to take part in the campaign here.

La Trobe’s new foreign correspondent

I have appointed Tony Walker, a Walkley Award-winning journalist and former international editor of the Australian Financial Review, as a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow.

Tony will help raise the public and media profile of La Trobe University as a respected expert in media, journalism and political science, and as a practicing journalist. He will work with students and colleagues in the Departments of Communication and Media, and Politics and Philosophy; and will help further to build La Trobe’s presence on The Conversation.

In addition, he will contribute regular columns to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald using his La Trobe byline. You can read some of Tony’s recent contributions to The Conversation here.

What’s the future of Future Ready?

Work is progressing well on the next phase of our Strategic Plan. This will build on our Future Ready Strategy, which expires at the end of this year. A working group of senior staff has been developing a consultation paper, which we aim to share with you in late April. Feedback sessions will be held on every campus in June.

New game changing partnership keeps dancers on point

Last week I announced an exciting new partnership with The Australian Ballet (TAB). This will bring together our world-class sports science and human movement experts with TAB’s internationally-respected injury prevention and rehabilitation team.

Ballet dancers are elite athletes and we hope that our combined research efforts will not only keep dancers fit and healthy, but that we will also learn lessons on injury prevention and rehabilitation that can be applied to other athletes, and to the general population.

The new partnership will also have benefits for staff, including access to discounted tickets and special events. We will keep you informed.

You’re invited – hear Australia’s best thinkers on issues that matter

We’ve got some fantastic public lectures coming up, featuring some outstanding speakers.

In late April, elder statesman and former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating will share his thoughts on the future of Asian foreign policy in the Trump Era.
The following week, in early May, respected jurist the Honourable Michael Kirby will explore issues at the intersection of sexuality, health and the law.
We’ve got more top calibre speakers coming to La Trobe in coming weeks. We will keep you posted.

Bendigo Bold Thinking first

Last month, we held our first Bold Thinking event in Bendigo. Planning expert Dr Julie Rudner joined local alumnus Tasneem Chopra, Bendigo Bank pioneer and La Trobe Honorary Doctorate recipient Rob Hunt, and Jimmy Possum founder Margot Spalding, for a discussion on the future of multiculturalism in Bendigo following the bitter debate about the construction of a Mosque in the city.

These are important issues for the community and I’m delighted that the event was so well attended.  Like all Bold Thinking Events, you can view a replay on our website.

La Trobe invents #ScienceSelfie

In closing, warm congratulations to the La Trobe team of Kim Plummer, Eddie Custovic, Matthew Felicetti, Caroline Bathje and Giulia Gizzi, who have been accepted into the CSIRO’s On Prime pre-accelerator program.

Their idea is simple but ingenious – an adapter that allows any smart phone to take digital photographs directly through a microscope lens.

The team will receive help to test commercial pathways for their technology, through a process of customer discovery and market validation. There’s also the chance of a $5000 performance bonus and inclusion in our very own La Trobe Accelerator program later this year.

Happy Easter.