May 2018

It’s the month of May, and our pleasant autumn weather continues – but at the cost of the driest April on record for 21 years.

Supreme recognition

Congratulations to Bendigo law student 33 year-old Samuel Taylor who was recently awarded the Supreme Court Prize for best academic performance. Samuel has been studying law part-time at the Bendigo Campus, while also working at a local law firm and balancing family responsibilities.

He is a great example of why La Trobe University was created 50 years ago and why we’re so committed to our regional campuses -  to ensure the empowering opportunities of a local education are available to all Victorians. Samuel is also a great example of our cultural quality of being accountable by striving for excellence in everything he does.

From Rabelais to UA

Best wishes to La Trobe Arts Graduate Catriona Jackson, who has just been appointed CEO of peak group Universities Australia. Catriona completed her degree in the mid 80s and progressed from a stint as editor of student magazine Rabelais. She has had a successful career as a journalist, media advisor and policy lobbyist; and she now represents the sector that is one of Australia’s biggest drivers of economic success. I look forward to working with Catriona in her new role.

On the buses

Passenger trials of La Trobe’s Autonobus have just started on the Melbourne Campus – and you can take part.

We’re collaborating with a wide range of industry leaders - VicRoads, Keolis Downer, HMI Technologies, RACV and the Australian Road Research Board - to better understand how autonomous vehicles can be integrated into existing public transport networks. This project, managed by the University’s Centre for Technology Infusion, really exemplifies our cultural values of innovation and connectedness.

About 1,000 people have already registered online, and while 400 trips have already been booked, there are still spots available. If you’d like to go for a ride and get a taste of our transport future register your interest.

A Better Australia

The Ideas & Society Program, convened by Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow Professor Robert Manne,has been running for many years and consistently features Australia’s best thinkers.

This year Prof Manne has outdone himself and personally attracted some of our nation’s most respected community leaders, commentators and policy makers to a series of events through the year that pose a common question – how can a better Australia be built?

The series is already underway. In March, Tim Costello and Conny Lenneberg considered why in recent years Australia has failed to fulfil its regional and global responsibilities. You can watch the conversation on our YouTube channel.

Last week, Gillian Triggs and Julian Burnside took a look at the health of our current human rights regime. Watch their conversation here.

We have an exciting program in place for the rest of the year.

  • June - Noel Pearson will outline prospects for long-delayed indigenous constitutional recognition.
  • July - Kevin Rudd will suggest how our political system could work more efficiently and how trust in our politicians might be restored.
  • September - Tim Flannery will discuss how far Australia and other nations have risen to the challenge of climate change.
  • October - Jane Caro and Anne Manne will turn their attention to the unfinished revolution of gender justice and equality.
  • November - Cassandra Goldie and Frank Brennan will speak on the theme of social justice

Keep an eye out on the Ideas and Society webpage for when tickets become available – they’re bound to sell out quickly. My hearty thanks and warm congratulations to Robert Manne for compiling such an impressive series.

Championing gender equity

We recently celebrated the conclusion of La Trobe’s inaugural Women’s Academic Promotions Support Program. It was first introduced in response to data which showed that although La Trobe employs more academic women than men (60 per cent women to 40 per cent men), this ratio is not reflected at higher academic levels.

The program offers workshops and mentoring by colleagues to encourage and support women applying for promotion. Almost 170 women took part in the program as mentees or mentors. I look forward to hearing about the successful applications following the May Promotions Committee meeting.

It was also very pleasing to see the latest scorecard of the Male Champions for Change (MCC) initiative, as captured in its most recent annual report. I am proud to be a member of the MCC, which is committed to achieving a significant and sustainable improvement in the unacceptably low levels of women in leadership.

Help end the coward’s punch

I recently took part in the launch of the Pat Cronin Foundation at the Melbourne Campus, along with the Cronin family and former AFL champion and Foundation Ambassador Matthew Richardson. The foundation honours former La Trobe student Patrick Cronin, who was tragically killed in April 2016 by a coward’s punch from a stranger.

The University has agreed to work with the foundation to undertake research to investigate the coward’s punch and help in the design of preventative programs to end senseless violence in the community. We are keen to hear from researchers who want to be a part of this research. If you are interested, please contact Stephen May in the Alumni and Advancement office.

Congratulations to Professor Kerri-Lee Krause

Congratulations to Professor Kerri-Lee Krause on her recent appointment by the Federal Minister for Education and Training as Deputy Chair of the Higher Education Standards Panel.

It is wonderful to see Kerri-Lee’s expertise and leadership recognised by Government and I have no doubt she will make a major contribution to panel outcomes.

You can read more about Kerri-Lee’s appointment and what the panel does in Minister Birmingham’s media release.

New student accommodation

We’re about to start construction of the first new student accommodation at the Melbourne Campus in our 50 year history. The 600 bed facility will be located in the current residential precinct and take the number of beds on the campus to more than 2,150.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2019 with completion due in mid-2020, and will provide a $65 million economic boost to the local economy.

All staff briefings

If you have not already, you will soon receive an invitation to the first all staff briefings for 2018 at all of our main Victorian campuses. These briefings give myself, and members of the senior executive team, the chance to personally update you on the major projects and initiatives underway at La Trobe, as well as a re-cap on our recent achievements. It also provides you with the ability to ask your own questions on the day.

More information on each session is available on the intranet. Please get there if you can.

Finally a quick reminder that it’s time to consider selecting and nominating worthy La Trobe alumni for the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards. The closing date is18 May 2018. I look forward to seeing all of this year’s nominations.

Have a great May.

John