It was an experiment; one that we will not wait another 125 years to repeat.
We believe that Welcome Home Week was the first event of its kind to be staged by an Australian university and it proved to be a crowning week in a year of 125th Anniversary celebrations.
While it is difficult to be precise with numbers, it appears that up to 17,000 found some way to engage with the university across the week, to reconnect with former classmates and lecturers and to re-engage with the institution that turned them into citizens of the world.
From gala dinners to bush tucker luncheons, from government receptions to college reunions, from golf days to white water rafting, it was a social, intellectual and sporting smorgasbord. For some it was the lure of seminars or exhibitions, for others it was the Faculty of Law Reunion BBQ, the Medical School 50th, or the Southern Gospel Choir's performance in the finale concert. Still more relished the revival of the north-south rowing rivalry in the Vice-Chancellor's Challenge.
Of course, no birthday party is complete without the cutting of a cake. A 125th birthday party requires a special cake, and a special cake-cutter. For the Sandy Bay ceremony, that person was one of my predecessors, Professor Alec Lazenby AO, after whom Lazenby's café is named. In Launceston, it was distinguished alumna Elizabeth Daly who was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2008 for services to education in Tasmania. On the Cradle Coast, it was Viola Ho who was part of the first intake to the campus there, a Law graduate who now practices in both Sydney and Hong Kong.
In another of many high points, a State Reception in Hobart provided a stunning backdrop for the signing of a historic partnership with the state which – in the next decade – holds the promise of shifting Tasmania onto surer footings.
Welcome Home Week overlapped two highlights of the annual University calendar, Open Day and Research Week, ensuring sustained activity on all campuses. It was our first major anniversary celebrated as the island-wide university our name suggests.
My thanks to all the staff and students who contributed not only to the success of Welcome Home Week but to the other overlapping events which made this week so memorable. I would particularly like to thank Young Dawkins and the Advancement Office for ensuring that Welcome Home Week was one of our most successful – and unique – University experiments.
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