December 2014


Welcome to my third and final 2014 edition of From the VC's Desk. I hope that you have found these monthly email updates useful and informative.

Christmas message

I am sure many of us are looking forward to the end of year university shutdown as an opportunity to refresh and renew. Please take the time to view this short video message to all staff.

 2014 in review

This has been a massive year by any standards: a year in which we have laid the foundations for a comprehensive transformation and modernisation of the university; and a year in which federal higher education policy became front page news.

The changes inside the university have been immense. A new academic structure and a new way of providing services to staff and students are in the process of being introduced. Major new systems are being implemented, and our infrastructure is being improved. New roles and opportunities have been created for many staff.

Our challenge now is to ensure that these new systems, processes and structures achieve the goals we have set for them – of improved levels of service to staff and students, and improved performance of the University as a whole. That will be our highest priority for 2015.

Of course, this has been a difficult year in lots of ways. Some staff will be leaving us, and I would like to thank them for their service to La Trobe. Indeed, I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and understanding as we have worked our way through these significant changes.

In Canberra, we end the year not knowing what policy settings will apply to the sector beyond 2015. The Minister introduced a new Bill into the House just before the Christmas break, with some significant concessions, and the attitude of the cross-bench Senators towards it remains to be determined. I will ensure that the University community is kept fully informed of developments next year.

At the same time, staff and students of the University have continued to achieve many successes. We have had our most successful year yet in terms of research income obtained, success rates in national grant schemes, and in the number of national teaching awards made to our staff. The strength of our disciplines continues to be recognised in international rankings.

We have worked hard with local schools to increase interest in studying at La Trobe, by introducing our Aspire Program, our Hallmark Program, as well as a range of exciting new degrees. We have addressed the needs of regional non-school leavers through our Inspired Futures Program.

The public engagement of our academics has continued to grow. Colleagues have won some of the country's leading literary prizes; they have been downloaded in huge numbers from iTunes; and been widely read on The Conversation website and elsewhere. Our support for the Bendigo Writers Festival has ensured that it is now one of the most highly regarded regional festivals of its kind.

Our students have been recognised in many ways, including though the award of the prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarships.

On top of this, this year we launched La Trobe Asia; began a new online learning collaboration with Academic Partnerships International; and commenced our Regional MBA program, the only MBA program offered between the northern Ring Road and Canberra. Our MBA is now ranked 4th in Australia and second in Victoria.

I would like to congratulate all staff and students on your achievements this year and thank you for your hard work.

Public Transport Update – Melbourne Campus

In the November email, I provided you with an update on the lobbying I had undertaken of both the then State Government and Opposition for improved public transport access to the Melbourne Campus.

I am delighted to advise that the new Victorian Government has committed to co-funding with the University an 18-month trial of a high frequency express shuttle bus service between Reservoir Train Station and the Melbourne Campus at Bundoora.

I am very much looking forward to meeting with La Trobe Alumnus and the new Victorian Minister for Public Transport, The Hon Jacinta Allan MP, early in the New Year to ensure that this trial commences as soon as possible.

La Trobe Alumni feature in new Victorian Cabinet

On behalf of the entire La Trobe University community, I extend my very warm congratulations to the following La Trobe Alumni who were recently sworn in to serve as Ministers in the new Andrews Labor Government.

The Hon Jacinta Allan MP (BA (Hons) 1995) has been appointed Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Employment. Minister Allan is also the State Member for Bendigo East.

The Hon Natalie Hutchins MP (BA 1993) has been appointed Minister for Local Government, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Industrial Relations.

The Hon Robin Scott MP (BA 1995) has been appointed Minister for Finance and Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

The appointment of these three La Trobe Alumni as Ministers in the Victorian Government is another great example of how our passionate graduates are making a difference and working to address the big issues of our time.

'Pressured' politicians headed back to school

I am proud of our support for the Australian Futures Project (AFP) which recently, in collaboration with La Trobe and Trinity College in the University of Melbourne, launched the first ever leadership program designed uniquely for Australia's elected politicians.

Find out more about the program by reading the recent Australian Financial Review article. 

This inaugural Leadership Program will be offered in February 2015 to twenty Federal Senators and Members and will equip them with the necessary skills to deal with the public service, absorbing the mass of complex information that gets thrown at them on a diverse range of issues, dealing with the 24-hour media cycle and framing a career around the short-term election cycle and declining party bases.

Further information on the Australian Futures Project is available on their website.

La Trobe awards an honorary degree to cognitive therapy pioneer

La Trobe continues to forge closer links with world-leading researchers who are building healthy communities.

On 13 November this year at the University of Pennsylvania,

Dr Stephen Kent, Head of the La Trobe School of Psychological Science, presented an honorary Doctor of Science (honoris causa) to Dr Aaron Beck.

93 year-old Dr Beck is considered a world leader in the field of psychopathology. His research into depression led him to develop instruments to help measure suicide risk.  This work continued into the 1980s where he created new frameworks for understanding anxiety, substance abuse and relationship conflict. 

Bendigo Campus to feature on TV this weekend

Our Bendigo Campus is being featured on a new TV program to be aired on Channel 7TWO at 2.30pm this Sunday.

The new program titled 'Find me a home in the country' is an Australian version of the popular UK show 'Escape to the Country' and is a one-off stand-alone program featuring Bendigo and what it has to offer. Of course our Campus is part of that appeal.

Some of our Strategic Communications students were involved in the logistics and filming of the show, which includes footage shot within the new Health Sciences building at Flora Hill and in the Visual Arts Centre.

Once again in closing, I wish you and your families a great Christmas and a very happy 2015.