While the major events that we’ve hosted over the past few weeks have generated their share of national, even global headlines, their long-term impact to our university carries even greater significance.
First of all, we held our world-first unijam that received coverage interstate and overseas, as well as attracting input from 7500-plus registered participants in more than 50 nations worldwide.
The top six ‘quick wins’ taken from ideas generated during the jam have already been announced (see ‘Achievements and Announcements’ for details), and the remaining content has been codified and analysed with its strategic, long-term suggestions identified and incorporated into a final draft of our new five-year strategic planning blueprint to be released in August.
This document, to be entitled Crossing the Horizon, will articulate a number of actions that will help us deliver on the ambitions outlined in our existing high-level strategy, Horizon 2020.
In addition to the unprecedented unijam consultation process that brought together the ideas and opinions of staff, students, alumni and industry experts, the plan has also been informed by detailed examination of our current institutional performance and by the rapidly evolving external landscape that guarantees ongoing challenges for Australia’s higher education sector.
Crossing the Horizon is an action plan, as opposed to an aspirational plan. It details a number of concrete initiatives beneath seven over-arching themes that will help to further establish and differentiate UniSA as a true university of enterprise.
The other recent announcement to grab headlines emanated from a visit by the then Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, to our City West campus last month.
As a result of a $40 million investment from the Commonwealth announced during the visit, UniSA will have an expanded, strategic presence in the rapidly growing health and medical research precinct that will be the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
The new UniSA Centre for Cancer Biology – delivered in partnership with SA Pathology – will help to further enhance the reputation of our institution, and of our state, as a global leader in health research, education and innovation.
There is no doubt that the growth of this precinct, which also includes the SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and the to-be-relocated University of Adelaide Medical School, will fundamentally alter the city’s dynamic.
As a result, UniSA will be at the very heart of this exciting shift which is perhaps the most important in the intellectual growth of Adelaide since the grand Victorian buildings of the North Terrace cultural boulevard took shape in the second half of the 19th Century.
And just as the stately edifices of the Library’s Institute Building and Mortlock Wing, the Museum, the Art Gallery and Bonython Hall stand as timeless monuments to Adelaide’s cultural foundation, UniSA continues to invest in our city’s future heritage.
With the Hindley Street Learning Centre - to be known as the Jeffrey Smart Building in honour of our celebrated late alumnus - rapidly approaching completion, we are committing to a major new science, health and biomedical education and research facility on the north side of North Terrace, east of the new SAHMRI building.
This latest addition to our state-of-the-art infrastructure and our distinctive contribution to Adelaide’s built environment will bring a vast number of allied health professionals together under a single roof, and will also feature a major new science outreach initiative.
It is also an investment in innovation that befits an institution named among the world’s top 50 universities aged under 50, as confirmed by the recent Times Higher Education rankings.
This is a watershed in the ongoing evolution of Adelaide as a learning city, and it’s both exciting and reassuring that UniSA is playing a pivotal role.