ACU (Australian Catholic University)

Insight

Issue 3, Summer 2011

Newsbites

Prime Minister talks carbon tax at ACU

Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited ACU’s Strathfield Campus in August to discuss the proposed carbon pricing plan and its implications. The public forum was attended by more than 230 inner-west residents, and ACU staff and students. Ms Gillard said she wanted to be both Prime Minister, and have the carbon tax in place, after the next election. She also hit out at the heated anti-carbon tax rallies of the past few months. “I think this sort of people’s revolt imagery, that’s not our way. I think that is an Americanisation of our politics and I don’t think it helps us as a nation deal with some complicated questions,” she said. ACU environmental science lecturers Dr Cliff Seery and Associate Professor Vaughan Monamy attended the event, along with research student Nicola Pradella. Dr Seery said the forum was a refreshing opportunity for the community to ask insightful questions and receive clear, well-reasoned answers. “Too often the carbon price debate has been hijacked by misleading, emotional sound bites that fit neatly into 15-second news items,” he said.

Anti-depression drug research wins ACU ethics prize

Dr Paul Biegler has been awarded the ACU Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics, for his work on how clinicians should deal with the growing problem of depression. In his book The Ethical Treatment of Depression: Autonomy Through Psychotherapy, Dr Biegler argued that while drugs may ease depression, doctors cannot ethically prescribe them if they know there is a drug-free option available that is equally effective. In this work, Dr Biegler, from the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University, argues doctors have a moral obligation to prescribe cognitive behaviour therapy for patients with depression. The prize is part of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes for science.

Star-studded review for ACU

ACU continues to shine in the areas outlined by its Mission and key values, receiving the maximum five-star rating for Indigenous participation in the 2012 Good Universities Guide. There are more than 370 Indigenous students studying at ACU, across all five faculties. Many of the courses they are enrolled in have been developed specifically to meet the educational and career needs of Indigenous students – such as the Associate Degree in Indigenous Education, and the Bachelor of Midwifery (Indigenous). Flexible courses are also available, allowing students to live and work in their own communities, and come to Sydney only four weeks a year for face-to-face lectures. Last year, the University was one of the first in Australia to introduce Indigenous staff research scholarships. The Good Universities Guide rankings also demonstrated the satisfaction of ACU graduates – with the University receiving an impressive four stars for student demand, domestic teaching quality, getting a full-time job, and student-staff ratio. Cultural diversity and access by equity groups were two other areas where ACU received high marks– with four and three stars respectively.

VC to stay with ACU until 2018

ACU has extended the contract of its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, by seven years. Professor Craven, whose initial contract was until 2013, will now remain at the University until March 2018. A constitutional lawyer and regular contributor to public debate, Professor Craven has led the University through a period of tremendous growth – in student numbers, research, and infrastructure. ACU Chancellor, General Peter Cosgrove, said it was a superb coup to have secured the leadership and vision of Professor Craven for a further seven years. “Under Professor Craven’s guidance, ACU has taken its place alongside the world’s great Catholic universities,” he said. “He has proven that a Catholic university is more relevant today than ever, and ensured ACU is an increasingly active and important participant in the national discourse.”

ACU purchases North Sydney tower

ACU recently exchanged contracts for the purchase of NCR House at 8–20 Napier Street, North Sydney. The 22-storey building will help support the University’s rapid growth plan and expansion of the North Sydney Campus and course offerings. The purchase will allow for a significant increase in student numbers to be accommodated by 2016, and will help provide the teaching and learning space for new courses in allied health, law, global studies and business. Over the next few years, sections of the new building will be refurbished to house additional classroom space, staff offices, and a new law library. Professor Craven said the University had been looking for a building to buy for some time, and the purchase of NCR House was part of a major planning exercise for Sydney.

New Strategic Plan to launch in 2012

ACU is set to launch its refreshed Strategic Plan, covering the next three years, in February 2012. The new plan reflects the changing internal and external conditions the University is facing, while maintaining ACU’s unique values and character. During 2011, three University-wide consultation phases were completed and staff were encouraged to provide their feedback on the following planning documents: • Vice-Chancellor’s Discussion Paper, ACU Vision 2012-2014; • Planning Framework, Strategic Goals, Key Result Areas and Thematic Maps; and • University Performance Indicators and Targets. The final draft of the Strategic Plan 2012-2014 was presented to the Senate at its November 2011 meeting for their approval prior to finalisation and endorsement. The University Performance Targets will be reviewed by the Executive Planning Group and submitted to the Vice-Chancellor for approval in December. For more information about this project, please email strategicplan.feedback@acu.edu.au.

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