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To know ourselves is to determine our future

In three years' time we celebrate our 125th anniversary – a significant milestone we will celebrate with pride. As we prepare to mark this event we both reflect on achievements since our centenary and look forward to what is to come.

Growth at the university has been a major feature of the last 22 years, seen most profoundly in its geographical expansion, with the establishment of campuses in Launceston and Burnie, and more recently in Sydney and China. These have brought to UTAS the traditions of different institutions and the stories of new beginnings, and expansion in the size and diversity of the student population. The university that evolved through our first century of existence has been transformed.

The link between our past and our future has never been more evident as we mark the recent return to UTAS of historic Domain House, the original Hobart home of the university.

The endurance of institutions and institutional values across change is manifest in events such as the establishment of a new Scholarship to bring graduates of Hobart High to UTAS, to mark the 100th anniversary of Hobart High. We have a shared history of organisational and geographic transition – in their case from city high school to suburban senior secondary college, and from a location adjacent to the Domain to Mount Nelson.

In Open To Talent, we make the claim that to know ourselves is to determine our future. Knowing ourselves includes respect for our history and the achievements of alumni, and recent functions in Sydney and Adelaide have provided an opportunity to reflect on these in the presence of those who hold us in high regard.

Mr Alan Butler, who began his studies when the university was in its final years at the Domain Campus in 1960, wrote in a recent letter of his and his contemporaries’ strong enthusiasm to (re)connect with UTAS as we reclaim our original home and open it to the community. Such is the impact of a fine alma mater on alumni.

I have also had the pleasure recently to write a birthday card to our oldest living UTAS graduate, human rights advocate Ms Eve Masterman, who celebrated her 105th birthday at the end of May. Ms Masterman, who has a proud record of community service, completed her Bachelor of Arts at the Domain almost 80 years ago in 1933.

It is these stories about the institution, the value of education and the impact of that experience on individuals that ensure the longevity of our university. As we prepare to celebrate another significant milestone, we acknowledge the value of incorporating the values, traditions and wisdom of our past into the course of our future.

Peter Rathjen

Published on: 19 Jun 2012 9:58am