Reflecting on 2016

Image of ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven.

A message from the Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven: The Christmas season is upon us and as 2016 draws to a close we find ourselves looking back on the year.

At ACU we have plenty to reflect on, celebrate and be proud of as the year comes to an end.

In the research sphere, the University has enjoyed great success as our researchers continue to put into practice our Catholic Identity and Mission by making a difference in the community. Our world-class researchers are conducting work that is making a real impact in the fields of health, education, business and law, psychology, theology and philosophy, and the humanities.

The importance of our research was recognised this year with major grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC).  In May the ARC awarded $1.219 million in grant funding to ACU research projects, while in November more than $2.5 million in ARC funding was awarded across seven ACU projects.

Our students are also a source of pride and inspiration, with wonderful achievements in the fields of academia, community work and the sporting arena this year.

All eyes turned to Rio during the Olympics and Paralympics and we took great pride in cheering on competing ACU students and alumni, including Emma Tonegato, Mack Horton, Anabelle Smith and Ellie Cole, who all brought home medals.

A little closer to home, ACU also took pride in hosting the 2016 National Indigenous Tertiary Education Student Games at our Brisbane Campus, which offered the opportunity for more than 400 students from 25 Australian universities to get together and celebrate sport and Indigenous culture.

In May we were pleased to receive the results of the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching’s (QILT’s) 2015 Student Experience Survey (SES), which revealed students scored ACU higher than the sector average in all key areas.

Students scored ACU 83 per cent for the overall quality of the education experience, compared to the national average of 80 per cent, which is a very positive result. We look forward to receiving the results of this year’s survey.

Another great achievement this year was the launch of our philanthropy plan, which will harness the generosity of staff, students, alumni, donors and stakeholders to support programs that make a real difference.

Through the philanthropy plan and initiatives such as the Staff Giving program we aim to double the number of equity scholarships available to disadvantaged students and continue our East Timor and Thai-Burma border community engagement programs.

I was also humbled earlier this year when I was appointed as a Consultor, by Pope Francis to the Holy See’s Congregation of Catholic Education - the Vatican dicastery that oversees Catholic schools, universities and higher education institutes around the world. This appointment is a reflection of the significant role that ACU, and Catholic education in Australia more generally, plays in living out the education mission of the Church universally.

Another proud moment for ACU was the blessing of our Rome Centre. After opening in September 2015, the Centre has already hosted hundreds of students and a number of international research seminars. The Rome Centre is an exciting initiative and collaboration with the Catholic University of America (CUA) and offers opportunities for international study and research. Of note is ACU’s International Core Curriculum, successfully offered at the Centre, involving rich community engagement activities in Rome.

The official blessing in September was a great chance to celebrate our first year in Rome and our collaboration with CUA, while at the same time launching the Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship, an initiative that will assist ACU Indigenous students to study at the Rome Centre.

These achievements represent just a small sample of the significant accomplishments of our staff, students and the University as a whole throughout the year.

While the Christmas season presents an opportunity to reflect on the year that has past, it is also a chance to look forward. At ACU we look forward to a successful, productive 2017 where, inspired by the Gospel, we will continue our Mission of commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person and the common good.

I thank each of you for your hard work and commitment to ACU throughout 2016 and wish you and your families a safe, happy and peaceful Christmas.

Professor Greg Craven

Vice-Chancellor and President, Australian Catholic University

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