Happy 50th Anniversary, Macquarie University

12 June 2014

A message from Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor and President S Bruce Dowton, MD:
Fifty years ago, the New South Wales Parliament proclaimed the Macquarie University Act and created our University. I write to thank you for the part you have played in our history, and congratulate you on this happy occasion.

Macquarie University Speech Pathology School
Happy 50th Anniversary, Macquarie!

Reflections on 50 years of Macquarie
Over the past six months we have looked back over our history and the remarkable journey that saw us grow from a campus of market gardens into the modern University we have become. Two exhibitions in our Art Gallery have showcased the collection of arts and artefacts that we have acquired over the past half-century. We are the proud custodians of works by Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, Carol Jerrems, Paula Dawson and William Dobell, to name but a few.
Online, the Jubilee Hub has recorded stories of our past and documents the impact we have had on Australian and global society since our foundation. Macquarie University has an outstanding record of achievement in the sciences across a range of disciplines that have achieved national and international renown. Colleagues from the business, finance and management domains of the University have educated an extraordinary number of talented professionals who now lead national and international entities around the world. The website has been visited more than 3000 times since it launched in January.
In May, we invited members of the earliest graduating classes to return to campus with some of our longest-serving and founding staff, to relive old memories, catch up with old friends, and see how much has changed in the intervening years. Without fail, all were immensely proud of their University, both then and now.
We have begun construction of an Indigenous learning circle on campus. This feature will be a visible and tangible reminder of our relationship with the traditional owners of the land of this campus, and the link between the history of this land and its future. I look forward to its completion in early July.
The modern Macquarie University
The world of higher education in Australia has become very dynamic. Students are increasingly emphasising how their university education will prepare them for employment and many potential career changes over their lives. Internationalisation, not just of the courses we offer to students from overseas, but of the opportunities we offer to domestic graduates, is also becoming increasingly important.
Recent changes proposed in the Federal budget, including altering the basis of student repayment of government loans, re-clustering academic disciplines and eroding funding for research, will no doubt present significant challenges. At the same time, the march is on for Australian universities to face the reality of diversifying our sources of support.
We are accelerating our response through carefully planned endeavours that will secure the long term future of the University. We have a number of new corporate relationships that will encourage investment from partners confident that our graduates will have the skills they need to deliver the industries of the future. Students will choose to study with us knowing that their degree will give them enviable employment prospects over the whole of their working life.
Our renewed focus on engagement with alumni and friends is central to our future success. A strong alumni community, dedicated to the improvement of our University and philanthropic investment in our students reflects the spirit of this University: service and engagement. As we move to ‘middle age’, we must look to our past to help secure our future.
Framing our Futures
Anniversaries are not only times for retrospection. We have achieved great things in the past fifty years, but there is still more to discover, more to learn, and much work to be done. We must now look to the future, for I am certain that our best days are yet to come.
As we enter the second half of the year, there will be a gear change across campus. The preparations we have made in recent years will begin to roll out and the campus will transform. Construction will commence on the new University Avenue: the first in a series of works designed to prepare us for the future. Our Campus Master Plan is a far-sighted document that sets out our vision for this land and its shape. It will be unveiled later in the year and I am certain you will find it exciting and imaginative.
Anniversaries are also a chance for renewal. In many ways, despite our age, we remain a new University. With the development of our campus, the growth of our facilities and the continued achievements of our students, this year marks a watershed in our history. In recognition of this, the University community has worked over many months to develop a new identity for itself that reflects not just its history but its future as well. The new visual identity for the University will be revealed later this year. It is strong, impactful and I believe you will be proud of the end result and everything it represents in Macquarie.
Our new identity will give us an opportunity to renew our links with industry partners both here in Australia and around the world. Later this year, the University Executive will host an event to launch our new brand to the business community, and engage them again with this University as we have done over the past fifty years. We were established to be different, and our links with business and industry are one of our most distinctive aspects. I look forward to developing and deepening these ties over the coming years.
So there is much work to be done; but there are no surprises. The journey we have embarked upon is well planned, considered and strategic. It is the product of extensive consultation across the University, and it is clearly laid out in the Our University: A Framing of Futures framework. It is the way we will move from the University we have been to the University we want to become: a University of service and engagement, delivering high quality, transformative educational experiences to our students, uniquely Australian, truly international, the University of tomorrow.
I look forward to the next few months and the coming years as we build our new Macquarie University. It is an ambitious, inspiring project for ambitious, inspiring people.
Let us begin.
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