Vice-Chancellor's message

VC image 2In 2015 we celebrated our 50th birthday, the stories behind our foundation, our unsung champions and the work of our remarkable staff. We reached out to our alumni across the world, connecting through events hosted in wonderful venues great and small. Our graduates walked with pride through the City of Newcastle to waves and cheers and our generous friends, donors and communities celebrated with us with many a cup of tea and a scone and some great reminiscing of times past - what a year!

The Governor of New South Wales, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), came to our Callaghan campus in August and shared a conversation at the Wollotuka Institute with a group of our Indigenous students, whose determination to make a difference to their world was inspiring.

In August we were privileged to award an honorary Doctorate to His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania. In September, we hosted university, government and industry leaders from the United Kingdom, Canada and Asia at an international UON Forum on the role of universities in the economic transformation of their cities and regions. In October, we were honoured when the United Nations (UN) formally recognised UON and the City of Newcastle as the hosts of one of only 15 UN Centres worldwide designated as ‘International Training Centres for Authorities and Leaders’. Signing the agreement with the UN, together with Newcastle Lord Mayor Councillor Nuatali Nelmes, in the Palais des Nations in Geneva was a highlight of the year.

We were also delighted to welcome Chris Buck - the director of the Disney movie Frozen to UON as a President’s Visiting Fellow. Chris came to Newcastle during the fierce April storms and he inspired an audience of more than 900 as he told the story of how creativity, disruptive innovation and hard work delivered the highest grossing animated movie of all time.

Staff across UON made their mark throughout 2015, with the recognition of the research achievements of Laureate Professor Scott Sloan when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Professor Sloan was also named as the 2015 New South Wales Scientist of the Year - rounding out an outstanding year. We had an evening of celebration in Parliament House in Canberra when Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson was awarded the inaugural Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation, highlighting how staff at UON have been leading in innovation since our foundation. And what a year it was for Professor Peter Stutchbury who was awarded an International Fellowship to the Royal Institute of British Architects and received the prestigious Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal.

Our emerging leaders were also recognised by awards such as the Young Tall Poppy Science Award, invitations to global fora including the Australian Research Council (ARC) Global Young Scientists Summit in Singapore, and the award of prestigious scholarships and fellowships.

This Annual Report provides an insight into the educators and researchers who work every day at UON placing us among the top 300 universities in the world and in the top 10 in Australia for student satisfaction, good teaching,  development of students’ transferable skills and research excellence.

We also celebrate those students who have come to UON from across the world and contribute to our diversity and achievements and our Australian students who have secured New Colombo Plan Awards and prestigious international scholarships. There are also those who do us proud in many fields of endeavour, including sporting achievements at all levels such as the World University Games, the Commonwealth Games and future Olympians.

As we move forwards with our NeW Futures decadal plan we are well placed to deliver our 2025 vision to stand as a global leader, distinguished by a commitment to equity and excellence, creating a better future for our regions through innovation and impact.