From the Vice-Chancellor
The month of December is upon us, and with it some of the busiest weeks in the University's year. Most of our graduation ceremonies for 2005 will be held in the two weeks before Christmas, swelling by several thousand the ranks of our alumni as they go out to make an impact on the world. December also brings relief and relaxation to most of our final year students, especially after the rigours of November, full of revision and exams!
Conducting the graduation ceremonies so soon after the examination period is a huge academic and administrative challenge, and is made possible only by a mammoth contribution of many staff, and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank you for your efforts, both at this very busy time, and throughout 2005 as a whole. In a climate of increasing public accountability (not matched by increasing public funding) our staff continue to provide a quality learning environment for our students, and a research profile which demonstrably engages with and impacts on our society. We can be justly proud of our many achievements this year, and can look forward, with confidence, to another successful year in 2006.
The graduation ceremonies will also see the public unveiling of a revamped Bonython Hall, one of the many outcomes of the major investment in our buildings and associated infrastructure that we have made in 2005. Along with vital structural improvements, the Hall will now be air-conditioned and vastly more pleasurable for all graduands, staff and family and friends on those hot December days. Walking around our North Terrace campus at the end of 2005 reveals a changing and much improved campus, compared to one or two years ago. Rejuvenated facilities for the Elder Conservatorium and the progressive opening of the revamped Napier Building teaching areas represent a multi-year, $15 million investment. Heritage buildings like Bonython Hall and the Mitchell Building are receiving much-needed attention; the revamped Goodman Lawn area is looking great; the new lift just off the Hughes Plaza finally connects the lower and upper levels of the campus in a safe and accessible way; and there is much more. All these improvements are important ways in which we provide and maintain a good learning and teaching environment for our students and staff, and I thank all those involved for their contribution.
As we celebrate the achievement of our newest graduates, it is pleasing to note that the demand to follow in their place is increasing. The latest figures available to us indicate that the number of school leavers nominating the University of Adelaide as their first preference for study in 2006 has increased by around 4%. Put in the context of falling demand for many other universities, this is an excellent result which shows the value people place on our academic and research programs. Speaking of research, 2005 also saw further significant growth in our number of PhD students, and that, too, is welcome news in a market where competition for such places is increasing.
Some other quick acknowledgments: the University's many alumni and friends groups continue to play an active and important role locally, nationally and throughout the world. Our numerous volunteers donate valuable time and effort in helping make the University what it is. I would also like to acknowledge the members of the University Council and of its Committees, who give their time and expertise to the University community for no personal gain. To all of these people, and the entire University community, I thank you for your contributions in 2005.
I extend to you the compliments of the season, and hope you enjoy a well-earned break over Christmas and New Year. I look forward to working with you on the opportunities 2006 will bring.
PROFESSOR JAMES A. McWHA
Vice-Chancellor and President