From the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rufus Black
A very warm welcome to our Alumni magazine for 2022. As a University community we have been navigating complex challenges these past few years. Of course we are not alone in that, with much of the world facing serious, pressing and complex issues. In the face of all this, it really matters to remind ourselves that there is cause for hope and optimism. In many ways this magazine does exactly this, by sharing stories that celebrate the achievements of our inspiring and talented alumni community.
It is not just the stories themselves which I find hope in, it is seeing what we can achieve together and the kind of positive change we can collectively create.
Our mission here at the University of Tasmania is centred on us delivering education and expertise for Tasmania and from Tasmania. We know that to achieve our mission, we have to increase access to education. We must provide the knowledge and skills to future generations to enable them to tackle the ‘wicked’ challenges we face, both here on the island and across the world. We also know that you, our alumni community, are central to our mission through the contributions you make.
In focusing on hope and optimism, it is worth remembering that Tasmania is one of the best places in the world to lead positive change. We see this in action when addressing issues such as climate change. The targets and projections we often hear about are for 2050. Here in Tasmania, we effectively already have a zero-carbon renewable energy system. We were very proud to be recognised this year as the top-ranked university in the world for climate action (Times Higher Education Impact Rankings). This is a tribute to the collective efforts of students, staff and wider University community.
Since 2016, the University has been certified carbon neutral, one of only two Australian universities to achieve this. We have attained this through initiatives such as fully divesting from fossil fuels, sustainable transport initiatives and our Re-use Program. Fuel source replacement and improved building management alone have reduced carbon emissions by 2,540 tonnes over ten years.
Our new purpose-built buildings in Burnie and Launceston further speak to our sustainability values. Ambitious carbon reduction targets have been met in our new Launceston buildings, with 33 per cent less carbon used in their construction than in comparable buildings. This was achieved through working closely with architects and the Tasmanian building industry. At our community library at Inveresk, which I very much encourage you to visit, we used recycled gas pipelines in the building’s foundations, as well as timber and low-carbon concrete. Importantly, these collaborations have provided the industry with an at-scale model for how to build more sustainably into the future.
The alumni community are also doing hugely important work in the sustainability space, which you will see through the stories in this magazine. Our alumni are at the heart of initiatives such as the cooperative research to reduce carbon emissions through farming seaweed for use in animal feed. There is also the exciting research into Green Hydrogen which is leading to new and innovative enterprises.
In the following pages, you will read about efforts to adapt to a changing climate with innovations in plant science – the carbon-proofing of trees by alumnus and 2022 Fulbright Scholarship recipient Professor Tim Brodribb.
These stories, and there are many others, give a sense of some of the ways the University is positioning Tasmania to be a lighthouse for the rest of the world. A place that people look to for inspiration in innovation and excellence.
Beyond sustainability, our alumni are excelling across many endeavours, and we are delighted to also share with you some of these stories. There is much to be celebrated in the music, theatre and other projects underway in our cultural hub in Hobart, The Hedberg. Alumna Naarah Barnes (BMus 2019), a talented singer and Gija woman, is a shining example of where passion and energy in the performing arts can take you.
We hope you are inspired, too, by the research of Medicine alumnus Dr Thomas Edwards, revolutionising eye surgery to combat blindness. This is yet another exciting example of what our alumni are achieving for and from Tasmania with far-reaching positive impact. There are achievements too in Surveying and Spatial Sciences, a discipline celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, as well as stories about alumni creating businesses and driving change in inclusive and innovative ways.
Looking to the students in our University community, we continue our focus on improving access to tertiary education. Examples include our Schools Recommendation Program, whereby year 12 students applied for courses based on schools’ recommendations rather than an ATAR. We are also overhauling our scholarship program, with an aim of removing financial barriers to university entrance, which we know are holding back too many people.
All of this work is predicated on excellence and access going hand-in-hand. On talent being evenly distributed but opportunity not. We are focused on tackling this at this University and addressing the inherent challenges it brings.
Helping students achieve their dreams underpins the distinctive way we deliver learning, teaching and research on this island. Our State’s natural environments also provide unique advantages for study, which brings a quality that cannot be replicated in other places.
Returning to you, our alumni, for those of you who studied with us on the island, whether you remain here or not, you may relate to these distinctive island qualities and what they mean for you. As alumni of this University, in different ways you share our island values and this shapes the kinds of contributions you make. We know that our graduates, the newest members of the alumni community, are in demand, with over 86 per cent gaining employment within four months of completing their studies. The ripple effects of this success deliver many benefits to our State and places far beyond our shores.
We have a passionate and growing alumni community who have made, and are contributing to, much positive change, both here on the island and beyond these shores. As alumni of the University of Tasmania, you do this in a way that is uniquely yours.
My final word then sees me return to where I started, with a strong sense of optimism. As you read the stories that follow, I hope that in them you share not only this optimism about what is possible but also a sense of pride in what we are achieving together as a University community.
Celebrating the power of community
Words by Rebecca Cuthill, Director, Advancement
& Rob Blandford, Associate Director, Alumni Relations
We are delighted to share our 2022 Alumni magazine with you. As we emerge from the pandemic, it has been exciting to recommence our face-to-face engagement and be reminded of how truly exceptional our alumni community is. Across our island State, and in Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne, we have seen the intense interest in your alma mater from everyone we
As always, this magazine is an invitation to continue to engage, be inspired, and make your contribution. This year we have created more opportunities to enable alumni to share knowledge, skills and career stories to benefit others. Whether at webinars, career events or mentoring programs, we’ve seen alumni share wonderful words of wisdom to help others build their lives or careers.
In 2023, we will be re-launching a refreshed Alumni Advisory Committee, a forum for alumni to guide us in our work as we engage the alumni community both on and off-island.
The Committee’s future remit will also be to strengthen connections between alumni as professionals and their academic disciplines here at the University. More details will be announced in future issues of our Alumni and Friends monthly e-news publication.
We remain humbled by the talent of our alumni community and commit to continuing to help you tell your story – your amazing and diverse talents help inspire others. That is the power of our community.