The Hon. Richard Torbay MP, installed today as Chancellor of the University of New England, told his audience at a UNE graduation ceremony that, at this critical time in the history of higher education in Australia, the University would be “taking advantage of every opportunity” to move forward.
“There are reasons UNE can regard itself as at the forefront of the changes flagged recently by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Julia Gillard,” Dr Torbay said. These included UNE’s “existing policies and programs that successfully provide access for socially and geographically disadvantaged students”, and the maximum rating for graduate satisfaction that the University consistently achieved in The Good Universities Guide.
He said these factors would help to align UNE with the Federal Government’s increased emphasis on “student-centred” education.
“While UNE is still highly regarded as the pioneer in distance education,” he continued, “it is now competing on this ground with many other universities – such is the recognised value of distance-based learning. To continue to lead in this area, the University must look at the avenues and opportunities available to it and invest wisely in new technology.”
Dr Torbay said he was enjoying working with “a very dedicated Vice-Chancellor and senior management team”, as well as with his colleagues on the UNE Council, “as we steer our great university towards the future of higher education, taking full advantage of the opportunities ahead”.
The Occasional Address at today’s ceremony was delivered by Dr Ed McAlister AO, former Assistant Director of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia. Dr McAlister, who graduated from UNE in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree, said UNE “consistently punches above its weight” in many areas. “You have earned a degree from an excellent university,” he told the graduands – “a degree which, thanks to the efforts of many who have gone before you, is recognised and well regarded inter-State and overseas.”
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, presented Dr McAlister with a University of New England Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his “outstanding and significant contributions”. Dr McAlister spoke about the vital role that the support of others – particularly of family – plays in an individual’s success and, recalling his own graduation at UNE, said: “I remember the pride and joy on the faces of my wife and daughters and the many friends who came to help me celebrate what for me, as a part-time student, was the culmination of many years of effort. I thank my family again today – particularly my wife Margaret, who is here in the audience to support me as I give this address, and has watched this morning as I have had conferred upon me a very significant honour from this university.”
Also during today’s ceremony, Professor Pettigrew presented a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching to Jackie Reid, a Lecturer in UNE’s School of Science and Technology, saying that Ms Reid had “adopted a consistently innovative approach to the teaching of statistics based on educational theory and the adoption of innovative learning technologies”. Today’s ceremony was for people graduating in the Sciences and Health. There will be further ceremonies tomorrow (Education), Friday 3 April (Economics, Business and Law), and Saturday 4 April (Arts).
THE PHOTOGRAPH of Dr Torbay displayed here expands to include Dr McAlister (left) and Dr Francis Karanja. Dr Karanja graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy at today’s ceremony.