Impact through empathy

Photo of Canberra Campus Dean Patrick McArdle.

A message from Canberra Campus Dean, Associate Professor Patrick McArdle: Last week saw the roll out of the new ACU brand with the message of impact through empathy.

It is interesting to me that in the world of marketing and branding where the ‘new’ or the ‘innovative’ seem common place, this was not at all new.

Rather than declaring some fresh aspiration or novel approach, ACU has reflected its own self-understanding and turned that towards our internal communities as well as being bold enough to articulate who we know ourselves to be to the wider world.

While some of the images currently being deployed and the ‘four pillars’ are novel presentations of this self-understanding, they are hardly new to our students or our staff.

They are encountered when our student recruitment team or student ambassadors first visit a school and engage with young people about who they want to be and how they want to reach their goals; or when these same young people come to Campus for University Experience Day or Open Day and discover that what they were told at school is true: ACU is a community of welcome and nurture.

It witnessed when the staff of AskACU assist students to negotiate enrolment, class timetables, fee payment options or facilitate unit changes; in those times when Course Co-ordinators and Lecturers-in-Charge help new students negotiate a pathway through study; or, when tutors take the time establish rapport and relationships that enhance learning. Our belief in empathy stands out in the support we offer to our students in their joys and their struggles.

It is taken to the wider community through our approaches to their organisations and the conduct of practicum placements or through our community engagement activities.  It is clearly evident when our staff and students take part in the Clemente program, or forms of outreach and contribution to the communities within which ACU has a presence.

Our impact is certainly most strongly felt through our graduates who enter their professions and make such key efforts to transform the world by their relationships with those they serve.

‘Impact through empathy’ is not a superficial phrase or a hollow ambition.  It is what we encounter in our working lives with the wonderful colleagues around each of us; it is a statement of what it is to be a community centred on the dignity of the human person; it is the promise we make to transform the Australian community and the world.

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