The Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Jim Barber, welcomed new students to the University today, saying that they were embarking on an experience that would stay with them forever.
Professor Barber was speaking in the University’s Lazenby Hall to an audience of more than 1,300 people – including new students as well as their parents and friends – during the opening of this week’s Orientation activities at UNE.
“We offer you not just a qualification, but a way of life,” he told the new students. “You will make life-long friends – some of you will even meet your life’s partner here – and you will go away with a sense of affiliation and pride in having been here.”
UNE aimed to focus on the quality of its students’ experience, Professor Barber said, and to offer students “the opportunity to build a life”.
“Reach out to others,” he concluded, “and I promise you you’ll have an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your lives.”
In addition to the new students and their visitors, Lazenby Hall was crowded with about 90 stalls manned by UNE staff members and students, as well as representatives of government, community, commercial, sporting, and church organisations, providing information to help new students thrive in all aspects of their lives – academic, personal and social. Together, these information stalls comprise “Lifesaver Day”, traditionally one of the most popular events during Orientation.
In his introduction to the welcome ceremony, UNE’s Academic Secretary, Andrew St. John-Brown, noted the “particularly strong bonds” between the University and the town, and urged the new students to “start to consider yourselves ‘Armidalians'”.
Professor Jennie Shaw, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, introduced a competition which will enable students – or groups of students – to win prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 for designing a poster to promote sustainable transport options on campus. Professor Shaw referred to the University’s acquisition of electric bicycles (“e-bikes”) that will be available to students for the first time this year, and explained that this initiative reflected UNE’s commitment as a signatory to the international Talloires Declaration, which supports sustainability as a critical focus of teaching, research, operations, and outreach at universities around the world. She also referred to teaching and research programs at UNE related to sustainability, including the new Bachelor of Sustainability degree program.
One of the new students, Jessica Gazzard from Newcastle, said she was excited about starting on her double degree program of Bachelor of Criminology / Bachelor of Laws, and joining the sporting and social activities at UNE’s Duval College, where she will be living – and where she had found a warm welcome. She said that UNE was the only university offering the double degree of her choice, and that she was impressed with the University’s “good learning environment and wide range of facilities”.
Another of the new students, Alex Hill, who comes from a property near Cootamundra, will be studying for a Diploma in Agriculture while living in Robb College. Alex, who has connections to UNE through cousins who have studied or are studying here, said he was looking forward to university and college life.
“Despite the rain, students turned out in large numbers,” said Rhonda Leece, UNE’s Assistant Director of Student Services. “Parents and friends attended a special information session after the welcome ceremony, and the students participated really well in the ‘Lifesaver’ activities, getting themselves ready to start their academic programs.”
Other Orientation activities throughout the week include library tours, introductions to academic skills and support services, and a “freshers’ bash” and cinema entertainment.
THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows UNE’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, with new students Alex Hill and Jessica Gazzard.