From the Vice-Chancellor: Doing what we can
I often say that a university should be a part of its community - not apart from it.
This stems from my firm belief that universities are not only here to serve the research and education agendas but also to contribute to the fabric of the society in which they operate. Invariably, this means looking beyond our campus walls and in some cases much further.
This year has tested the most resilient of communities, both here in Australia and overseas.
We watched with the rest of the nation as the floods swept through major areas of Queensland and Victoria. Particularly close to home was the significant impact on a number of universities and other educational institutions including the University of Queensland.
Then only a matter of weeks later, earthquakes devastated Japan and left much of Christchurch in rubble.
When it became clear that the University of Canterbury had been badly affected by the New Zealand disaster, the immediate question was: how could we help?
We have many ties with Canterbury - Christchurch is a sister city to Adelaide, we conduct collaborative research and our two universities are involved in benchmarking processes aimed at providing the best possible education to our students.
With that in mind, we quickly extended an offer to have Canterbury's students study their first semester at the University of Adelaide. Within days, the first group of nearly 170 students and accompanying staff arrived in Adelaide.
I want to share with you an excerpt from a letter I received recently from a Christchurch parent:
"...our house was only 600 metres from the September 7.1 earthquake and we lost everything; our house is to be pulled down soon because of the damage. Our daughter narrowly missed being hit by falling debris and was very upset for a long time; she was also in a building in Christchurch in the February earthquake and the roof started to cave in.
"When she heard about the Adelaide Exchange she was thrilled, especially as Adelaide is a very special place to her. Being away from home for the first time it has taken her out of her comfort zone, but it has been fantastic.
"So thank you personally for putting a huge smile on our daughter's face and the continuing support you are giving the Canterbury students, it is very much appreciated."
A simple but practical gesture of help has had a profound impact on the communities of both Christchurch and Adelaide. It has reinforced the value of our many networks and partnerships and created opportunities to really make a difference at a time of such adversity.
Above all, it has shown the great community spirit that underpins our University.
I am immensely proud of our staff and students, our alumni and the many, many South Australians who have offered their support to the visiting students. The goodwill has been tremendously heartening and will endure long after our young Cantabrians have returned to their homes and campus across the Tasman.
PROFESSOR JAMES A. McWHA
Vice-Chancellor and President