August 2016


I hope you have all been able to get some down time over the mid-year break, and that things are running smoothly for semester 2.

Open Day Approaches

Even in this increasingly digital world, Open Days remain our most important recruitment events across all of our campuses. Students and their families still like to come and see for themselves what life on campus might be like, and to talk to the people who might be teaching them.

The 2016 Open Days are rapidly approaching.

This year we will be showcasing the very best of campus life as well as emphasising a number of themes, including the employability of our graduates and our Aspire early entry program (which has just been emulated by the ANU – without acknowledgement, of course!).

Delivering a successful Open Day depends on the collective efforts of staff coming together from across the University to present the very best La Trobe has to offer. There is a great team working hard to make these events a success. Thank you in advance to everyone involved.

Canberra – Policy and Politics Update

The Turnbull Coalition Government is back in power and there are new shadow Ministers appointed for Labor. As we know, Higher Education Policy didn’t really get much exposure during the election marathon, so now the election dust has settled, what changes, and what stays the same?

I was recently interviewed on these issues by Catherine Garett as part of our ‘On the Couch’ series, which you can see here.

La Trobe – Almost 50 Years Young

We are now just five months away from celebrating our 50th anniversary and plans are well under way for an exciting year of celebratory events and activities in 2017.

A 50th Anniversary website has now been launched to keep staff, students, alumni and friends up to date and informed. Please take a look at and discover more about the history, achievements and people of La Trobe over the years.

The website is also home to ’Share Your La Trobe Story’ a collective, curated space for the University community to share their stories, to help us rediscover what La Trobe has meant to all those who have been part of the journey.  I encourage you to share your own memories and experiences of La Trobe. Comments on how the website can be improved are also welcome.

As well as celebrating the extraordinary diversity of La Trobe stories, we also want to showcase the skills and creativity of our community, and we invite you to contribute directly to the anniversary program.

If you, your team or group of friends have an innovative and creative idea for an activity, event or program that you would like to deliver as part of our anniversary celebrations – just let us know.

Our ‘Pitch Your Project’ scheme will fund twenty projects with grants of up to $5,000.  All staff, students and alumni and others associated with the University are eligible to apply. We will be looking for innovative and creative ideas that will help us to celebrate 50 years of La Trobe University.

Building Stronger Ties in Mildura

I was in Mildura last week and met with Gerrard Jose, CEO of the Rural City of Mildura, to formalise the relationship between the University and Council.

We have had a strong relationship for many years but have now made it official by signing an MOU that will see us work together over the next few months to identify joint projects that will benefit the Mildura region. This will include teaching and research priorities related to the region that will be delivered through our Mildura campus, and Work Integrated Learning placements for La Trobe students in Mildura.

Washington Wrap-up

As I mentioned in my last blog, in July I spent a week at the Australian American Leadership Dialogue in Washington. I came home via Palo Alto in Silicon Valley, where I made some contacts that will be useful as we develop La Trobe’s Accelerator Program.

Amongst the highlights was my visit to Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think tank which is essentially a combination of entrepreneurship education and business incubator programs. It is located on the NASA Ames Research Centre campus, a former Cold War airbase, still complete with Zeppelin hangers from the early 1900's.

I am sure we will be able to learn a great deal from their experience as Dan Grant and his team develop the La Trobe Accelerator Program over the coming months.

La Trobe Scientists are Front Page News

Warm congratulations to the team led by Professor Andrew Hill at La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, whose work on a blood diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s Disease featured recently of the front page of the Age Newspaper.

A special mention should go to molecular microbiologist Dr Lesley Cheng, who did a number of media interviews that featured on Channels 7 and 10 TV news services across Australia.

The Bendigo Writers Festival

The Bendigo Writers Festival is on again and the strength of our partnership continues to grow.

There are a wide range of La Trobe academics and staff taking part, as you can see from the festival program.

One highlight will be a conversation live via videolink from London between Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and La Trobe Emeritus Professor Robert Manne.

Presented at the festival as part of our Ideas and Society program, Assange will tell his own story, why he took on the world’s superpowers and what he believes will be the future of Wikileaks.

I have no doubt it will be a fascinating conversation and well worth attending.

Ads Profile our Research Strengths

The next installation of our brand campaign, ‘What We’re Working On’, promotes the research of La Trobe researcher Dr Jasmine-Kim Westendorf. She seeks to understand why, after civil war, many peace processes fail to establish lasting, sustainable peace.

Our feature film, entitled ‘War and Peace’, shares the perspective of many civil war survivors and illustrates the fears, frustrations and aspirations of those working to create sustainable peace long after civil war ends.

The film is brought to life with the narration of La Trobe’s Dr Damir Mitric, a survivor of the Bosnian civil war in the 1990’s and passionate activist in this area.

The campaign will  feature across social media, billboard and large format sites from the week commencing 8 August until  3 September.

B/HERT Awards

I am pleased to say that we have received a positive response to the request for Expressions of Interest for the Business Higher Education Roundtable Awards and the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards.

Award programs such as these give us all a real opportunity to stop and reflect on how we have actually ‘been the difference’, and the impact this has had on our teams, our schools and Colleges, our students, partners and the community more broadly.

A big thank you to those who took the time to do this. The submissions received are impressive and worthy of recognition. We will be reviewing the submissions received over the next few days and hope to announce the successful submissions next week. I wish you all the best of luck.

All the best.