Dear Colleagues,

During the week, I was thrilled to learn that we had climbed two places, from 25 up to 23, in the World ‘Young’ University Rankings for 2021 – an outstanding achievement and testament to all your hard work under exceptionally trying circumstances over the past 18 months.

I have already observed the resilience and strength of this Institution and the people driving it. I genuinely believe that we offer student’s a world-class education and university experience – one that matches any university in the world, let alone Australia. We should be incredibly proud of this fact and celebrate it.

We need to continue to present UOW as a place where the world’s brightest and best want to be. This also applies to prospective students in our own backyard. High-school leavers across our communities should feel drawn to UOW as an equal, diverse, and inclusive place of study and one that sets them up for success in both their personal and professional lives.

We all have a role to play in this. Please join with me in being an advocate for UOW, amongst your family, friends and community groups.

I know we’ve been through some tough times recently, but we’ve grown through it, so let’s be proud of UOW and let everyone know it!

While standing in line to be tested last weekend, I could not help but feel anxious about the current COVID-19 outbreak in NSW as I thought about how quickly the situation in the US escalated in 2020. I ask that everyone prioritises health and safety, especially when on campus. If you can get vaccinated, please do. We all should encourage those around us to get vaccinated as well. We’ll only beat this thing with science, leadership and a strong sense of community.

Last week I was fortunate to visit with our colleagues at UOW’s Southern Sydney Campus. They should be commended for the wonderful work they are doing in the Sutherland Shire. I enjoyed getting to meet the team and several of our nursing students while also getting a tour of the nursing labs. I look forward to visiting more of our metro and regional campuses in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday I was honoured to give the welcoming address at the annual UOW Research & Innovation Town Hall (RAID) and announce the 28 recipients of the Prioritising Emerging Research Leaders (PERL) fellowships, alongside Professor Jennifer Martin. Research and innovation lies at the very core of what we do here at University of Wollongong – we have a proud and distinguished history of ground-breaking research and innovation and I do not doubt that we will continue to be ‘recognised globally for delivering impactful research that drives positive change’.

I’d also like to commend UOW’s Koori Aspirations Program, which was recently recognised with the Australian Rural Education Award (AREA) – a collaboration between UOW’s Outreach and Widening Participation Team and Woolyungah Indigenous Centre (WIC), the Koori Aspirations Program featured mentoring workshops targeted specifically at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high-school students from Liverpool to Bega, to foster the personal growth of the participants. Congratulations to all involved in delivering this important program.

Congratulations also to Yuin man and UOW Academic Developer – Indigenous Knowledges, Jade Kennedy, who has been selected by the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, to present UOW’s Jindaola program – an Aboriginal way of embedding knowledges and perspectives – at the forthcoming ‘Future Drought Fund’ Science to Practice Forum 2021. For those UOW staff wishing to attend, the presentation will take place in the SMART facility next Wednesday 30 June from 11.30am-1pm and will also be available to stream online. Please register your interest with Lynda Hezemans.

I’d also like to wish our UOW teams competing at this week’s National Indigenous University Games in Newcastle, the very best of luck. Organised by the Woolyungah Indigenous Centre, this is the first time since 2007 that we have had two teams competing at the games. We hope this number will continue to grow in the years ahead.

Also a big congratulations to UOW Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joe Chicharo, who was appointed this week to join a select group of distinguished higher education leaders to advise the Australian Government on higher education quality and standards. Professor Chicharo’s appointment to this prestigious panel reflects his standing as a leader in the international higher education sector, which is a testament to his breadth and depth of experience. Congratulations Joe!

And finally, as school holidays begin next week and many of our Staff are tasked with the difficult job of juggling work and family commitments, especially under the blanket of COVID-19 restrictions, please remember to not be too hard on yourself and talk to your Supervisor if you need advice or assistance in managing priorities.

Thank you for all that you do. Stay safe over the weekend, and please adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and get vaccinated if you can.