November 2016

Hello there,

November already, our students are in the midst of exams and the horses are on the track at Flemington. In the meantime, here’s a taste of what’s been coming across my desk.

La Trobe says “ Yes” to a game changing alliance

Last week I had the great pleasure of formally signing an exciting new agreement between La Trobe and Optus Business.

Our partnership with Optus will cover three broad areas.

First, our campus, which will become a living laboratory for the development of new ‘smart city’ technologies, using sensoring, data analytics and the deployment of the ‘internet of things’ in ways that will be of use to staff and students.

Second, we will work with Optus, our researchers and the other industry partners who will be located in our new Sports Park to develop sports technologies for wider commercialisation that will help improve elite sporting performance and prevent injuries.

Finally, Optus will support a new Chair in Cybersecurity at La Trobe. This is a rapidly developing area in which employment prospects for graduates are very good.

Last week, we launched our new Masters of Cybersecurity at a function attended by over 300 people – Optus have helped us to design the degree, will provide work placements for students and will employ many of the graduates.

University 4.0

Just after the formal signing of the agreement in Parliament House at an event hosted by Minister Dalidakis, I spoke at a Committee for Economic Development (CEDA) lunch about the the impact of technology on higher education – using the idea of ‘University 4.0’ - and was able to cite the Optus partnership as an example of many trends under way in higher education at the moment.

I invite you to view my speech.

Vale Inga Clendinnen

It is very sad to report the death of another very distinguished La Trobe historian, Inga Clendinnen, who was one of the founding members of the History Department at La Trobe in the late 1960’s. Inga’s life was fondly remembered at a memorial service held on campus last month, beautifully curated by Professor Katie Holmes, at which former colleagues, students and friends spoke warmly about Inga, her impact on those around her and on her discipline of history.

Inga was forced by illness to retire from active academic life in 1990, after which she went on to write some of her most widely read books, including Reading the Holocaust and her memoir, Tiger’s Eye. Earlier this year, Inga was awarded the Dan David Prize in Social History, which Tom Griffiths describes in the October edition of The Monthly, in his obituary for Inga, as ‘akin to a Nobel Prize for the Humanities’.

We were able to record Inga for the ‘Living History’ series filmed for our 50th anniversary next year – just six weeks before she died. Our production team did a great job of finalising the video so that it could be shown at the Memorial – and I thought you might like to see it too. It’s a wonderful memento of an extraordinary La Trobe scholar and intellectual.

Staff awards reach new highs

It’s pleasing to see that the 2016 Staff Awards have attracted such strong interest with a record number of nominations. In all, 96 were received across five categories making a difficult job for the judges. In fact, the panel was so impressed by the calibre of this year’s candidates that they have added a `highly commended` citation in each of the four main categories.

Congratulations to the many individuals and teams whose work has been recognised by their peers.  Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday 8 December.

For more information about our 2016 staff awards please visit our intranet site.

Our new David Myers Fellows

I look forward to meeting the inaugural David Myers Research Fellows when they arrive early next year. There was an incredible response to the Fellowships, with more than 300 applicants vying for five positions open to disciplines in the ASSC College. The successful applicants are extraordinarily talented young scholars who are joining us at La Trobe from some of the best universities in the world.

The Fellows will undertake some fascinating research projects including examining the Yolmo language in Nepal, developing an environmental history of the Yarlung Zangpo River that flows across the Tibetan Plateau, working on data analytics to support production planning, examining the impact of American immigration quotas on relations between the US and the British World, and researching the global history of Australian gold in the nineteenth century.

Leading women

The University has hosted more Women in Leadership events in the last month, this time in Bendigo and Mildura. These two events included a stellar line-up of panellists featuring luminaries such the United States Consul General to Melbourne, Frankie Reed, and singer, writer and arts advocate Robyn Archer.

The forums not only open discussion on barriers preventing women from taking on leadership roles, they also raise funds to provide bursaries to support female La Trobe students in regional Victoria who aspire to leadership positions in their chosen fields.

To date these events have raised over $27,000 for the bursaries, a fantastic result.

Special thanks to Professor Amalia Di Iorio from the College of ASSC and Gina Pederick from the PVC Regional office for their hard work in coordinating and presenting these extraordinarily successful events.

La Trobe winners

Congratulations also to the athletes, managers, coaches and staff that so proudly represented La Trobe at the University Games held in Perth in September. The Games are a huge event that involves 6000 student athletes from across the country. La Trobe students brought 27 medals home with them, but even more importantly our team won second place out of 42 universities in the per capita University Champion award – in typical La Trobe fashion, we were punching above our weight!

Google “OTARC” for answers on autism

I’m sure many of you have been following the progress of the AS Detect App in the Google Impact Challenge.

The app, developed in conjunction with cloud computing company Salesforce, is based on breakthrough research by Dr Josephine Barbaro from La Trobe’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) and was one of ten finalists in the Impact Challenge.

Since its launch in Australia in February this year, ASDetect has been downloaded more than 11 000 times and led to the assessment for early signs of autism in more than 5000 children as young as 11 months old.

While we were not declared one of four winners last week, we will still receive prize funding of $250 000 which will be used to help more families and children across the world.

Bravo to all the team at OTARC for their continued success.

More success for La Trobe’s place-based subjects

La Trobe’s suite of place-based subjects is building the University’s reputation as a leader in innovative education. Place-based subjects connect the classroom with the real world and build collaborations between La Trobe and key strategic partners in community and industry, particularly across our regional campuses.

Bendigo-based academic, Dr Sue Gillett, was recently recognised for this ground-breaking approach by the award of a Federal Government’s Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (COCSL). Sue’s pioneering design of Exhibiting Culture and Writers in Action – two place-based subjects that received praise from students, colleagues and industry – has secured her this prestigious award.

Sue also has a passion for sharing her ideas. She was recently in the United Kingdom, presenting the place-based subject model at the Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference, hosted by the National Archives and Research Libraries UK.

La Trobe’s next place-based subject is Exhibiting Culture: Galleries at Work. Delivered in conjunction with Bendigo Art Gallery, this subject focuses on the curatorship, community and design aspects of the Arts including blockbuster exhibitions, artist-run collectives, cultural tourism and technology.

Several new place-based subjects will launch in 2017 including Gone Bush and Connecting Landscapes, further increasing opportunities for La Trobe to engage with communities and offer our students unique learning experiences.

La Trobe’s NGV Learning Partnership – David Hockney

I’m proud to report that La Trobe has again partnered with the National Gallery of Victoria, this time to help bring the artwork of one of the most celebrated, innovative and productive artists of our time, David Hockney, to Melbourne.

In keeping with Hockney’s use of cutting edge technology, the NGV will exhibit his artwork on iPhones and iPads with landscapes playing an important theme through the exhibition. La Trobe will make its own play on this theme by creating an innovate art experience that uses art to connect with our expertise and 50 year heritage in sustainability and environmental sciences.

More details about these opportunities, and La Trobe’s involvement more generally, will be available soon, but will include student access to accredited arts related subjects, the use of our expert staff to help the public analyse and interpret, as well as ticketing options for staff.

That’s all for now. Have a great November.