June 2019

The mornings are getting colder, so it must be Semester 1 exam time for our students. Thanks to all colleagues who have helped them through this exam season, from those who have provided learning support, to those who invigilate and supervise the exams themselves; and, of course, to academic staff who set and mark them. It’s a huge effort all round.

University City of the Future starts to take shape

It’s been on the drawing board for some time, but the University City of the Future at Bundoora is starting to take shape.

It’s remarkable how quickly our most recent student accommodation project (at the rear of Glenn College) has sprung out of the ground. Footings have been laid and pre-built eco-friendly timber laminate panels will soon come together into two striking six-story accommodation buildings providing a home to 624 students.

The building is the largest single capital project undertaken by the University since the construction of the original campus. When complete it will be the largest mass timber construction in Victoria. Representing a $100 million investment, the project will create many hundreds of new jobs in the region, including 40 new apprenticeships.

Stage one of our Sports Precinct is open and is already being well used by University and community sporting groups. You might have noticed that construction of stage two is well advanced (hard to miss if you come to work along Kingsbury Drive). This will include specialised exercise and human movement research labs, office accommodation for sporting bodies, as well as highball courts for use by the university and wider community.

At last count, there are four cranes gracing the Bundoora skyline. It’s been a long time since this has been the case.

These new projects are just a taste of the great things to come for the campus. I’ll give you a more detailed update on University City of the Future at our upcoming All Staff Briefing sessions early next month (see below).

Five Star performance

It was great to see the University do so well in the recently announced QS Five Star ratings.

La Trobe was rated five out of five in all eight categories in which it was considered:

  • teaching
  • employability
  • research
  • internationalisation
  • facilities
  • innovation
  • inclusiveness
  • sports-related subjects.

We are one of only six Australian Universities to achieve this impressive result. It’s a great vote of confidence in what we do here at La Trobe and further confirmation of our place in the top 400 in all three of the major world University rankings.

Celebrating staff success

Congratulations to Professor Jim Whelan who was recently elected to the Australian Academy of Science for his outstanding contribution to plant biology. Jim has pioneered research on how plants respond to stress and environmental changes. He continues to lead this vital research in his current role as Research Director for La Trobe’s Institute for Agriculture and Food at AgriBio.

The important work of Law School cyber-security expert Dr Andre Oboler in tackling online Holocaust denial and distortion was also recently acknowledged. This month, Australia was admitted as a member state of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Dr Oboler was part of the delegation who attended the IHRA meetings in Luxembourg, where his work using online reporting tools on behalf of the Australian Government was officially recognised.

HR Team finalists for HR Team of the Year

La Trobe’s Humans Resources (HR) team is a finalist in the Australian HR Awards 2019 in the ‘team of the year’ category. This is great recognition of the many initiatives the Division has implemented to support our work here at La Trobe.

La Trobe’s HR Strategy is based around four pillars: people, culture, performance and leadership, and supports the strategic objectives set out in our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. This includes initiatives like the Diversity and Inclusion Plan, Gender Equality Blueprint, Culture Influencers Leadership Program, the Leadership@La Trobe professional development suite, and the Gender Diversity in Leadership program. I know many of you are already benefiting from these initiatives, and as an organisation we all benefit by investing in our people and our culture, and in developing and supporting our current and future leaders.

Congratulations to the team for leading this important work – and good luck in the finals.

Law Student of the Year

We know La Trobe students are passionate about making a difference, and this was highlighted once again when Khayshie Tilak Ramesh from our Bendigo Campus was awarded Law Student of the Year at the Victorian Legal Awards.

This is a fitting recognition of Khayshie’s academic excellence as well as the tremendous work she does in her local community. This includes being the first Youth Mayor of Bendigo, a longstanding volunteer at a community legal centre, and a trained mediator. It’s perhaps no surprise that she has also been named in the Top 100 Future Leaders of Australia. You can read more about Khayshie’s story here.

Strengthening our partnership with the Islamic Museum

I’m delighted that La Trobe is now the Islamic Museum of Australia’s education partner, which  includes sponsorship of a $15,000 Art Prize for their upcoming Australian Muslim Artists (AMA) exhibition.
This partnership highlights our long standing commitment to connect with all communities to transform lives through education, and I look forward to further collaboration in areas such as training and work integrated learning opportunities at the Islamic Museum for the benefit of our students.

Some clever conversations

On July 8, Julian Burnside AO QC and Father Frank Brennan SJ AO will be part of a discussion on Australia’s asylum seeker policies. They will be joined via Skpe by Kurdish writer Behrouz Boochani, author of No Friend But the Mountains, who will talk about his six year ordeal of living on Manus Island. The debate will be moderated by our own Dr Madelaine Chiam from the Law School. Tickets are available, but selling fast.

See you soon - All Staff Briefing sessions: 1-5 July

Throughout the first week of July, I’ll be travelling to each campus with members of our Senior Executive Group for the mid-year All Staff Briefing sessions. These sessions are a great opportunity for the SEG team and I to meet with staff and share updates of what we’ve all been working on.

You can view the schedule for these sessions here or send through a question for our panel.

Hope to see you all there next week!