In the last few years Australian Catholic University (ACU) has been making an interesting transformation from a low profile collection of campuses to a university with a strong national identity.
As we have grown, boosting numbers of students and staff alike, we have undertaken a substantial capital works program, which aims to improve the learning and teaching facilities for the whole ACU community. They make a significant addition to our existing infrastructure, without losing the distinct identity each campus offers, and they develop our capacity to secure the future through quality education.
Throughout the last year, we have been reaping the benefits of long-term planning and building projects, which have involved staff, students and communities, all of whom have shown endless patience and resilience as state-of-the-art facilities are created and built.
“O” Block on the Brisbane Campus – a modest structure of a certain age – underwent a face-lift, emerging from under the scalpel with renewed vigour. Thus the John A Bathersby building was born: named for and blessed by Emeritus Archbishop of Brisbane, His Grace, Archbishop John Bathersby, whose namesake will house the Schools of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science.
Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods, a gifted missionary priest and co-founder of the Sisters of St Joseph, provided the name for our brand new acquisition on the North Sydney Campus: a 22-storey building that will allow for an increase in student numbers to be accommodated by 2016. Tenison Woods House (TWH) will help provide the library and learning space for new courses in allied health, law, global studies and business. We were honoured that His Eminence George Cardinal Pell DD AC and the Honourable Joe Hockey blessed and opened the building, which was immediately pressed into service for expanded teaching and learning areas and staff offices.
In Canberra, ACU and Calvary Health Care ACT have established a new facility, Calvary Clinical School, to provide clinical placements and career opportunities for the University’s nursing and allied health students. The new clinical school will give our students the opportunity to consistently consider and apply their learning within a range of clinical settings.
Through the establishment of the Calvary Clinical School we will be able to involve a variety of Calvary’s experienced clinicians and health managers in activities such as guest lecturing, tutoring and student mentoring roles. This will enrich our health courses, and foster productive relationships that represent the proud heritage and history of Catholic health care and education in Australia.
On our Strathfield Campus we are relocating Psychology, the PC labs, Academic Skills and Strengthening Clinic in Clancy and reworking the Campus Life and Campus Ministry space to accommodate the new ATM at Mount St Mary. Just recently a remarkable mosaic as unveiled at our Indigenous unit, Yalbalinga, as part of the celebration of its 25-year history with the university. Designed by a staff member, and created by staff and students, the work has come to signify the unity of our indigenous population across ACU.
The Ballarat Campus has benefited from general renovations of the staff room, the Forbes Student Centre, Connors Hall and other learning areas have made beneficial contributions to improved conditions across the campus.
Some might consider the $75 million spent on The Daniel Mannix Building (TDMB) to be the crowning achievement of our capital expenditure in the past year: it is a triumph of style and substance and the low-energy research and teaching facility has already been awarded a six-star green rating.
The Archbishop of Melbourne, Most Reverend Denis Hart DD officially opened the building, named in honour of the former Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Daniel Mannix. The fabulous rooftop garden made a splendid venue for the launch of ACU’s Faculty of Law, helped by Melbourne’s weather that was on its best behaviour for the outdoor function.
TDMB will provide new teaching spaces to accommodate the University’s expanded health related courses in nursing, exercise science, occupational therapy and psychology.
The design of the building embodies the concept of the vertical campus and includes the St Mary of the Cross (MacKillop) Chapel, a 300-seat lecture theatre, a fitness centre, a student centre and the rooftop garden.
To cap off the year, North Sydney’s own chapel, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, was also opened. Bishop Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney, consecrated the chapel, which is dedicated to the patron of Catholic Universities around the world.
We should all be proud of the continued growth of the University. However buildings are simply bricks and mortar until people use them and bring them to life. They have been named for people who have been an inspiration in their own time, and for generations. The people who use those buildings every day to study, teach, research and work can feel a connection to each other and those who went before us and have paved the way by their shining example.