The University of Newcastle, Australia

Twelve days of Christmas

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

As another busy year draws to a close, a festive reflection on 2016...

Twelve Months of Rankings

For the first time, UON was ranked as one of the world’s top 250 universities by both the 2016 QS and Times Higher Education World University Rankings – a remarkable increase of up to 50 places over the past three years and global recognition that UON is an institution on the rise. UON also ranked in the top 200 in the world in 14 subject areas as diverse as geography, engineering, architecture, nursing and education. Well done us!

Eleven Early Career Fellows

Our early career researchers achieved great success this year in the ARC DECRA scheme and NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowships. This capped off a strong year for UON research, with UON researchers securing $25m in ARC and NHMRC funding despite 2016 being a notably difficult year in competitive grants.

Ten Years in Singapore (and beyond)

In 2016, we celebrated the historic 10th anniversary of our UON Singapore Campus. We were also proud to open the University-led United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) for Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction, which put Newcastle on the map of the world’s United Nations cities, and to host the international Univer-cities Conference of university leaders from around the world.

Nine Alumni Award Winners

Our outstanding UON alumni were recognised at a Gala Dinner in October, with winners of the awards drawn from across the globe and from fields spanning architecture, bioscience, international development and linguistics. We also celebrated the achievements of our remarkable alumni in Singapore, Malaysia and the UK.

Eight NeW Futures Themes

In 2016, we launched our ambitious NeW Futures Strategic Plan 2016-2025, outlining our vision for the transformational role, international reach and positive impact of our University on our regions both locally and globally. We were curious, collaborative and courageous as we worked across UON to implement lead NeW Futures strategies, from MOOCs to the UON Academy and the Research Advantage Program.

Seven Cities Travelled (plus a whole lot more)

In March I was fortunate to visit seven cities across Asia at the invitation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading to celebrate International Women’s Day and to talk about opportunities and challenges for women in STEMM. Our University’s participation in the SAGE pilot provided a powerful example of how organisations can actively promote gender equity and points to UON’s commitment to achieving gender parity and supporting women throughout their research careers – an ongoing priority for 2017 and beyond. It was great to see that UON has again been recognised in 2016 with a national Women’s Gender Equality Agency citation as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality.

Six Big Announcements

2016 has been a year which UON demonstrated its role as a leader in global and regional transformation, working with partners across our communities. The Federal and State Governments confirmed their support for the new $72.5 million Central Coast Medical School and Health and Research Institute, and the UON Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health in Orange and the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program also received $19 million of NSW Government funding. The new $18 million Hunter Innovation Project secured $9.8 million in state funding for smart city infrastructure and an innovation hub; and the Federal Government provided a $1.5 million grant to support the work of the UON Gomeroi Gaaynggal health centre in Tamworth and Walgett. And of course, this week the NSW Premier announced an exciting new stage of our engagement in the Newcastle CBD with the acquisition of land in Honeysuckle.

Five Hubs for Change

This year, UON launched its Integrated Innovation Network, established with a $1m investment by the NSW Government and creating four innovation hubs in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Williamtown (Defence Hub) and Muswellbrook. In addition, UON’s new Innovation Hub on the corner of Auckland and King Street in the CBD – created as part of the Hunter Innovation Project - will provide collaborative spaces for researchers, students and those members of the community seeking to create start-up enterprises.

Four Colombo Scholars

2016 has been a bumper year for student achievements, with UON students receiving New Colombo Plan Scholarships, representing Australia at the Rio Olympics in pistol shooting, and being awarded a prestigious General Sir John Monash scholarship to the University of Cambridge in the UK. Our students were also handpicked from over 900 international entries to produce an animated film for children’s television network Nickelodeon. We were also delighted that UON achieved an Australian first milestone in 2016 with more than 1000 enrolments of Indigenous students - our largest ever Indigenous student cohort.

Three Shakespeare Plays (or were they?)

Whether developing groundbreaking innovations in microscopic technology or identifying a previously unknown co-author of a Shakespearean play, our researchers continued to break new ground and deliver excellence, innovation and impact.

Two Enterprises

This year, we prepared for the launch of our STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) and CABLE (Creativity, Arts, Business, Law and Education) Enterprises in 2017, which will support more interdisciplinary research and education across our institution, and will ensure UON is positioned for success into the future.

And a New Frog in a Pear Tree (well, under some vegetation and sand anyway)

And of course, the discovery of a wholly new species of frog (or was it a toadlet?) at Oyster Cove in Port Stephens, which made headlines across the world.

As we reflect on the immense effort of our talented colleagues in 2016, and the remarkable impact of our University on our regions, we can be proud of all that has been achieved and be confident in our plans for 2017.

But first, it is time for a well-deserved and relaxing break! I thank colleagues for another outstanding year at UON and for your extraordinary energy, commitment and hard work in 2016. Please do take time to enjoy whatever Christmas and summer brings for you and your family and friends, whether it’s a BBQ on a beach or a book with a glass of something chilled on the verandah. Enjoy!


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