When I decided to come to La Trobe back in 2011, I began to realise just how many people in Melbourne, and across Victoria, have some sort of La Trobe connection – either as graduates themselves, or as members of a family that includes a La Trobe graduate. Almost without fail, the story told is one of the amazing opportunity that La Trobe made possible. There is widespread and deep affection for the University as a result.
Now that I have been here for almost five years, my affection and passion for La Trobe continues to grow. La Trobe is a place that gets under your skin and becomes a part of who you are. I can see why our alumni and former staff are always so passionate about La Trobe: no one spends time here and leaves without believing in what we do.
One of the most satisfying parts of my job as Vice-Chancellor is going to graduation ceremonies, across all of our campuses. Graduations hold some of the most enduring memories for me about what makes La Trobe special. Time and time again I hear stories about entire families that have studied with us, often being the first generation in their family to study at university, and it is deeply rewarding to hear them talk about the impact that La Trobe has had on their lives.
La Trobe people have also made extraordinary contributions to our collective understanding of the world. We have created new knowledge in ways that have had a transformative effect, our researchers are world-class and work on topics that are of crucial importance to the future of humanity, and we have produced some of Australia’s leading public intellectuals.
I’m very proud of the fact that La Trobe is now, once again, recognised as one of the world’s leading universities – but even more pleased that we have achieved this while remaining one of Australia’s most accessible and diverse institutions. It is a unique achievement and one that we will rightly celebrate in 2017 as we turn 50.
We have much to celebrate in in 2017, but equally many reasons to be enthusiastic and optimistic about the future. Personally, I look forward to the next round of graduation ceremonies, where I know I will see first-hand what is so special about La Trobe.