Tis the season to be festive – and reflective. As we prepare for a well-earned end-of-year break, a celebratory and restorative time to be spent with family and friends, it is appropriate to look back on what has been a ground-breaking year.
Some of that ground-breaking has been literal, more has been about positioning the University as an agent of social and economic change in Tasmania. The future prosperity of this state – indeed of any region or country in the 21st century - is dependent on innovation and human capital, and we are best placed to provide both in Tasmania.
We have risen to this challenge through the crystallisation of a renewed curriculum matched to the needs of students in the 21st century, introduction of new Associate Degrees to improve Tasmanian participation, establishment of the Peter Underwood Centre to extend our reach into Tasmanian schools, realisation of the $300m Northern Transformation Project to expand higher education in regional Tasmania, expansion of opportunity through our student experience programs, and research programs that saw success in the most competitive research schemes and entry into the top 300 universities in the world as assessed by the ARWU.
If the unifying philosophy of our mission could be captured in one word it would be ‘transformation’, and 2016 has seen us sowing the seeds of this transformation. We continue to affirm the identity of a university that is uniquely matched to community need, defined by accessibility, visibility and quality.
The University does not walk alone, and we are grateful for the partnerships that underpin our activity.
Multi-partisan political support at all levels of governance has made possible marvellous new infrastructure that is beginning to energise the heart of Tasmanian cities; student accommodation that is in high demand, and research and teaching facilities that will create opportunities for interdisciplinary scholarship and education, and new economic frontiers for Tasmania.
2016 has also seen remarkable generosity from our friends and alumni. Notably, and in no particular order: Dr David Warren made possible, through a $2.6 million gift, the first-ever endowed Chair at the University (after 126 years), in astrophysics. Fr Michael Tate inspired a new scholarship to take our graduates to Oxford. The iconic Tasmanian company Blundstone provided scholarships to assist the commencing cohort of students in our Associate Degree in Agribusiness. The Ian Potter Foundation pledged up to $8 million, to ensure that the Creative Industries and the Performing Arts Development is a world-class venue.
All of this while maintaining excellence across our teaching and research programs – it has been a remarkable year.
With all good wishes for the festive season and a prosperous New Year.
Season’s Greetings 2016
Professor Peter Rathjen