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A week when acts of remembrance and reflection dominate.

In years to come, the outcomes of the George Floyd trial will resonate as much as the funeral elegies for Prince Philip (Duke of Edinburgh), albeit for different reasons. The right to an open, equitable life in a society which truly celebrates race, cultural origins and ethnicity is still the goal which we must fight for. The bells which toll in recognition of service and citizenship in their many beautiful and meaningful forms must be heard and not drowned out by the loud discordant clang of the crowd…

Our responsibility as a University to support freedom of speech, promote intellectual diversity and sponsor academic freedom is no less critical now than it was all those years ago when the first formal charter was published by UNESO – indeed, I hold it to be more important than ever.  In this third decade of the 21st century, we [universities] are bound to serve society through education, knowledge creation and engagement to play our singular part in nurturing, developing, interpreting and challenging the ideas that might inform decision making, creativity and practice across an ever more complex societal spectrum. Our role surely must be to ensure that we execute this modality of service with meaningful effect to and for our communities. Thus, we might also ponder upon the renewed debate of scholars ancient (Kierkegaard) and present (Singer) around identity and voice, as the much discussed Journal of Controversial Ideas is published with academic pseudonyms an option.

I would also reflect that as we progress the important work of developing our new Academic Framework, which includes a renewed focus on UNE’s future investment in scholarship, that it is a moment for us to consider the way our scholarship might define UNE in the decades to come. How we design and weave the knowledge paradigm of ‘regional resilience’ into the wider institutional research agenda and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning to find a place for the voices that need to be heard so that UNE fully and richly meets the obligations of autonomy and independence.

Share a message of congratulations to help us celebrate the Graduands of 2021. It will take less than 60 seconds and mean the world to a cohort that is graduating after a remarkable year!
As member of a university community, it is worth noting that today is World Book Day. My dear friend Mr Google reminds us that the first ever World Book Day was celebrated in 1955 on 23 April, the date selected by UNESCO to coincide with the birth and death anniversaries of William Shakespeare. It serves to remind us that words and the stories they tell are important, emojis may come and go but words remain a critical part of how we construct and progress our lives. 

Words like service, honour and integrity may not feature as much in the everyday language of Generation Z but they still have purposeful meaning and must be spoken through deeds, if not in the digital texts and images of our daily lives. Last weekend I was much struck by the comments of so many young people who turned up at Windsor Castle to acknowledge the life of a prince from another age. This weekend Australians and New Zealanders of all ages will come together to commemorate the service and commitment of a few for the many.

The golden threads of honoris et honestatis still connect each generation and bind us together as we gather to acknowledge some of the best artefacts of humanity, through a commemoration of the amazing achievements of individuals and of communities – those of history, those of the present and those of our future.

For this week and for ANZAC day, a lament seemed appropriate. Jesse is majestically moving as always but Annie’s recent choral version also inspires.


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO