2009 was a particularly “green” year for UNE, with the launch of the UNE-based National Centre for Rural Greenhouse Gas Research in May and the University’s sponsorship of the Sustainable Living Expo (SLEX) Armidale in September.
The National Centre is a joint venture between UNE and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, aimed at addressing the challenges that climate presents to primary industries. In officially launching the Centre, the Hon. Ian Macdonald MLC also announced the appointment of Professor Annette Cowie as its Director. “Scientists at the National Centre will initially focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, sequestering carbon in soils, and developing next-generation biofuels,” Mr Macdonald said.
UNE, as a leader in many aspects of environmental sustainability, was proud to be the major sponsor of SLEX in 2009.
At the level of University governance, the major events of the year were the installation of Richard Torbay as Chancellor at a graduation ceremony in March, the retirement of Professor Alan Pettigrew as Vice-Chancellor at the end of October, and the appointment of Professor James Barber as the next Vice-Chancellor – a position he will take up in February 2010.
The University saw the second intake of medical students in its School of Rural Medicine – UNE’s part of the Joint Medical Program. It also saw the first intake of students in its new Bachelor of Social Work degree program, which has a unique rural focus. More than ninety students are enrolled in the program – 80 per cent of them coming from regional areas.
Earlier this month UNE’s School of Rural Medicine announced the establishment of the Tablelands Clinical School, with Dr Maree Puxty as its Clinical Dean. The Clinical School will comprise part-time academics in obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, emergency, and psychiatry who will provide both high-quality teaching to medical students and clinical services for the region.
UNE continued to follow its strategic vision of taking its expertise in regional issues to the regions of the world. One example was the International Conference on Health Service Delivery Management, held in Thailand in October, and jointly organised by UNE and Thailand’s Naresuan University. The conference attracted health practitioners, providers and educators from 16 countries, including Australia, Sudan, Nepal, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Laos and Bhutan.
On the UNE campus there were two major conferences examining ways of improving educational opportunities in regions throughout the world: the first International Symposium for Innovation in Rural Education, held in February, and the Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Comparative and International Education Society, held in November.
Other important conferences held at UNE this year have included the first International Evidence-based Complementary Medicine Conference (in March), the 20th biennial Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition – Australia conference (in July), the 13th Annual Symposium on Precision Agriculture in Australasia (in September), and the 2009 conference of the Australian Systematic Botany Society (in December).
Charity and community service were not forgotten, with UNE staff digging deep for the Victorian bushfire appeal. The 30th annual Earle Page College Coast Run from Armidale to Coffs Harbour raised more than $30,000 for the Children’s Medical Research Institute, while the Celebration of Sharing Charity Art Auction, held in July, raised more than $5000 for the Salvation Army and local outreach program Paws Up.
The university received a new face in October, with the launch of the new UNE logo, along with an accompanying brand strategy and television campaign. Fittingly, in a year where environmental concerns were prominent, the new UNE logo is green.