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Chair's Report on Alumni Affairs 2014

University of Tasmania Alumni Chair, Dr Ashley Townsend (pictured here) welcomed alumni and friends to the Twentieth Annual General Meeting of the University of Tasmania Alumni at the University Club on Wednesday, 12 November and delivered a comprehensive report of our year’s activities.

This has been another busy year for the University of Tasmania Alumni with changes in staffing in the Advancement Office and an array of activities and communications on offer to interested alumni.

Nearly 700 guests attended the Launceston, Burnie and Hobart Foundation dinners with the Distinguished Alumni and Foundation Graduate Awards presented at the Hobart event to Dr Christobel Mattingley and Mr Andrew MacLeod. Christobel, an acclaimed author, is a worthy recipient and outstanding University ambassador, as is Andrew who also hosted a public lecture inspiring students and community attendees alike.

This year, over 28 events have been directly coordinated or supported by the Advancement Office and I will highlight just a few.

The quiz night for young alumni was held at the University Club earlier in the year on Wednesday 9 April. It was jointly hosted by the University of Tasmania Alumni and the UTAS Postgraduate Council and bookings were at capacity.

Thalia and Bianca, contestants from this season's My Kitchen Rules and current University of Tasmania undergraduates, took alumni on a journey to the Sydney Fish Market on Friday 22 August. Alumni and friends selected fresh seafood from the amazing Sydney Fish Market and participated in a hands-on cooking class. The event culminated in a dinner feast where alumni present enjoyed their cooking efforts together, with the meal accompanied by specially selected Tasmanian wines.

The University of Tasmania celebrated with alumni in Shanghai in July and welcomed nearly 400 new graduates into the alumni fold at ceremonies in Hangzhou and Shanghai. A highlight of the graduation celebrations was a reception for Alumni hosted by Deputy Chair Diana Carter where University of Tasmania High Officers and academic staff met with alumni and learned of their achievements since graduating.

The University of Tasmanian Alumni joined the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal and the Launceston Chamber of Commerce to host a Partnering with Not-for-Profits networking function which attracted over 70 guests. Alumni and Launceston community business leaders heard Mr Young Dawkins speak on the successes of partnerships with the University. This included profiling the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal, which is administered through the University Foundation, and their success in garnering support from local businesses to fund critical devil facial tumour disease research and conservation programs.

This year has seen the Career Mentor Program – a partnership of UTAS Alumni and UTAS Career Development & Employment – grow to see 126 students benefit from the experience and generosity of their alumni mentors. Mentors cover 30 professional areas, are located in Australia, Spain, Singapore, and the United States, and include an ex-Premier of Tasmania, a District Court Judge, and an Order of Australia recipient. In the last four years 300 students have participated with feedback from both mentees and mentors reflecting the value of the program to all involved.

The Chair and Mr Young Dawkins, Executive Director, Advancement, have been pivotal in the planning for the University’s 125th anniversary celebrations next year. Dates have now been set for celebrations in over 15 locations around the world and you are warmly encouraged to support activities near you. To help celebrate the 125 Stories project team is seeking material from alumni about the University's development and achievements, our connections with our local communities, with Tasmania and the world, and our people and their experiences. You are encouraged to visit the website and submit your contribution prior to 30th November 2014.

The important process of gaining a more accurate dataset of our alumni has been undertaken with our database providers Blackbaud Pacific. Existing information was verified and an additional 2400 addresses were updated through the national change of address register.

A comprehensive university review has led to a change in the university logo with the cessation of the use of UTAS as our public logo. The new logo still includes the University’s rampant lion but includes the use of ‘University of Tasmania’ in full. The use of the full logo is to improve competitiveness and global positioning. There is also triangle as a visual symbol of the University. This is used as a graphic. This review also led to the rebranding of the Alumni magazine for 2014 to provide consistency in the way alumni is represented by the University.

Earlier this year Ms Melanie Roome left the Advancement Office to follow other pursuits, and we thank her for her service to Alumni.  We have recently welcomed the appointment of two new staff in the Alumni Office, Mr Alastair Lee as Associate Director, Alumni Relations and Ms Jane Sutherland as Alumni Relations Events Assistant. They look forward to helping alumni connect with the University. The wider Advancement Office has also welcomed several new staff including the appointment of Ms Sophie Davidson to the position of Deputy Director, Advancement.

Ms Jemina Stuart-Smith is farewelled after serving one term as the first Institute representative. This position was created following the changes to the alumni ordinance and we thank her for her time and contribution.

Lastly, we remember the achievements of many of our alumni throughout 2014. We celebrate the appointment of Professor Kate Warner as the new Governor of Tasmania while remembering the achievements of the late Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Peter Underwood, AC, Governor of Tasmania, passed away in July after a short illness. A stand out highlight was the recent award of The Man Booker Prize to Richard Flanagan. How proud are we to have Richard as an alumnus of our university? Other achievements have been acknowledged in various ways throughout the year and they bring great pride to the University and to us all. We look forward to celebrating many more achievements of our alumni in the coming year, our 125th anniversary year.

Dr Ashley Townsend Chair, University of Tasmania Alumni
November 2014

Published on: 27 Feb 2015 9:53am