From the Vice Chancellor:
In motion

Professor David Lloyd, Vice Chancellor and President

During this month’s graduation ceremonies, UniSA’s 200,000th graduate crossed the stage. As a young university, that’s a milestone to be incredibly proud of. Proud, not just because “200,000” has a nice satisfying ring to it – and I’ll admit, it does – but also because we know the quality, not just the quantity, of those graduates.

When UniSA’s 200,000th graduate crossed the red carpet (it was during the first ceremony on Tuesday 16 April, in case you are interested in the specifics) they did so as a graduate of Australia’s number one university for employability. A graduate of South Australia’s number one university for careers 16 years running. A graduate of one of the world’s top 100 universities for industry engagement.

That didn’t happen by accident. In our Crossing The Horizon plan, released more than 10 years ago, we stated that as a clear ambition of this institution – if you come to UniSA, we said, then you will learn the skills you need to build a career and shape a better future for this state, this country.

We put that up front. And we have delivered.

I am proud of that. And I am also aware that there are critics of that approach. Critics who say, “A university should be about more than just getting a job”.

And to those critics, I say, “Yep, you’re right”.

And I say that with pride too, because, UniSA’s 200,000th graduate didn’t just cross that red carpet with the skills they needed to succeed in their career. They crossed that red carpet as a graduate of a university that ranks in the world’s top 100 for its commitment to equality and social impact.

They crossed that red carpet as someone who has learned to value diversity and equity; someone who speaks out against discrimination and injustice; someone who knows a question is sometimes as important as an answer.  

They graduated from a university that has always existed to serve its community. A university that has always been inclusive and supportive of everyone, no matter their background. A university that has shown that excellence and equity don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

200,000 graduates we are incredibly proud of. 200,000 graduates who set the standard for the next chapter we are going to write.

As I mused over in a slightly poetic state of mind last week, we have now shifted from “planning to doing” in our activities around the creation of a new university in South Australia.

Things are in motion.

Adelaide University was formally established on 8 March. The Adelaide University Transition Council has been appointed, and following their first official meeting, they have approved the Terms of Reference for a Transitional Academic Board with interim memberships drawn from the two existing Academic Boards.

They have also approved the new Adelaide University Strategic Ambition & Directions 2024-2034, which outlines a roadmap for the journey we are undertaking to build a new university together, from transition to full transformation.  

That’s not a theoretical journey anymore. We are on that road now. We’re no longer just talking about all the things we intend to do – we have started doing them.

There will still be an awful lot of talking along the way – that is just the way I was brought up – but that talking is now part of action, activity, motion.

If you happened along to any of this month’s UniSA graduation ceremonies, you may have been fortunate enough to hear our Standing Acting Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise, Bradley Distinguished Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington (or Marnie for short…) sharing some Kaurna concepts with our graduates as part of her University Address.

In her message to our graduates, Marnie has been reflecting on some words she was taught by Kaurna Senior Elder Uncle Lewis O’Brien. The first is “ninthi” which means “becoming” or “in motion”; the second, “ngadlurlu”, which means “we act now, we act together”.  

As Marnie explains it, ninthi reminds us that our lives and the world around us are “always in motion, in a good way”, while ngadlurlu emphasises that “things only come into being in the Kaurna world via action”.

I think both ideas can provide confidence and guidance to us over the next 18 months. Yes, everything is now in motion, perhaps to a far greater extent than many of us are used to. But that is motion in a good way.

We have a great opportunity. And we know what we need to do to grasp that. We know we want to create an institution that sets a new standard for what a university can be in Australia – and in the world. An institution where a fantastic student experience and global research impact can go hand in hand; where excellence is for everyone; a university that supports the whole community.

We know where we want this journey to take us. Now we act, and we act together. And together, through our actions, we can bring that into being.

I know that is scary. I know that there is uncertainty.

But look at our recent graduates – for them, there is a world of possibility ahead, a world of motion, and opportunity. They don’t quite know where that is going, or how it’s going to end up. But they know they have the knowledge, skills, perspective and courage to act and bring an amazing future into being.

And they learned that at UniSA. So, I think that means we’re ready for what comes next too.

Professor David Lloyd
Vice Chancellor and President