25 September 2008: Australian Catholic University (ACU) was recognised for its contributions to interfaith relations by the Australian Intercultural Society (AIS) at a Ramadan Iftar dinner last week.
The Award for Excellence in Academia was presented to the university at a dinner hosted at Melbourne’s Government House by the Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser AC, and Mrs de Kretser.
The Excellence in Academica Award was introduced by the AIS to recognise academic institutions that have played an important role in fostering social cohesion and building community harmony. One of the main aims of the AIS is to promote and foster harmonious relations between faith communities in Australian society.
ACU Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gabrielle McMullen, who accepted the Award in the name of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, expressed her pride on behalf of the university in being recognised, along with Australians in other walks of life, as leaders in the field of inter-religious relations.
“There is a great richness,” Professor McMullen said, “in coming to know and building relationships with people of different cultures. The study and understanding of religions historically, culturally, and in the lives of people are important contributions that ACU and other universities can make towards promoting communitarian harmony and global peace.”
ACU has made significant efforts to promote understanding between Christians and Muslims in Australia, especially through its Asia-Pacific Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue (APCID), which was established in 2006.
Late last year, the University appointed Professor Ismail Albayrak, a Turkish Qur’anic scholar and interfaith expert, to the newly established Chair in the Study of Islam and Muslim-Catholic Relations. The Chair, which is partly funded by donations from the Australian Intercultural Society, is designed to boost research, teaching and learning, and community engagement in the field of Muslim-Catholic Relations. A new Certificate course in the Study of Islam will be introduced next year into the University curriculum as an important step in this process.
Australian Catholic University (ACU) established as Australia’s only Catholic, national, publicly funded university is open to all. The University empowers its students and staff with a strong sense of social responsibility and concern for the moral and ethical dimensions of their study and their professional and personal lives.