A sense of place
The sense of 'place' is an incredibly esoteric concept.
Having lived and worked in a number of cities, on both sides of the equator, I have seen different communities embrace their surroundings - their homes, their towns and of course, their universities - in many ways. Yet despite the cultural differences, that unique and almost inexpressible sense of place always seems to bring people together and transcends normal boundaries and conventions like no other.
The sense of place is particularly important for our Indigenous communities. This was most evident at the recent place-naming ceremony of Ingkarni Wardli, the University's 6 Star Green Star building that is now home to the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.
The meaning of Ingkarni Wardli is place of learning or enquiry, so it seamlessly complements the University's motto Sub Cruce Lumen or Learning under the Southern Cross. The Kaurna name recognises the longstanding relationship the University of Adelaide shares with the Kaurna people, the original custodians of the land on which the University is situated. And there is a strong link to the earth and land through the work of the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences and that resonates with the Kaurna people and their own connection with the Adelaide Plains.
While the Ingkarni Wardli place-naming ceremony, held on a crisp autumn morning, was relatively simple, its symbolism and impact, especially on those present, was significant.
By naming Ingkarni Wardli, the first site at the University to be bestowed with a Kaurna name, we acknowledged that we are all temporary custodians of the land and we celebrated the unique nexus between traditional culture and contemporary academia.
Representatives from the Kaurna community stood side by side with current University staff on a place that has special meaning for both.
The sense of "place" on this occasion was profound. And it reminded me of how powerful a patch of earth can be to an individual.
As anyone who has ever returned to their childhood home, school or much treasured holiday location will attest, place is really defined by the people and activity with which it is associated.
At the University, as staff and students dart from lecture to library, the physical space - the buildings, parks and halls - are quietly imprinting an indelible impression on each person's view of the world. Daily interaction on the University grounds become a subtle infusion of learning and discovery, friendships and ideas; an assortment of life experiences that carefully shape a future pathway.
As the time for me to complete my decade as Vice-Chancellor approaches, the deep sense of `place' that I feel at the University of Adelaide grows stronger. This has been reinforced by sharing so many wonderful stories through the Adelaidean over the past 10 years, thereby allowing me to invite the wider community into our place, our University; a place of great achievement and determination.
I know that you will continue to be captivated by the work of our outstanding staff and students and draw inspiration from their quest to make a real difference.
And when you think of the University, I trust that the sense of place conjures images of excellence and vision.
PROFESSOR JAMES A. McWHA AO
Vice-Chancellor and President