The University has come a long way from its inception in 1990 following the amalgamation of four Catholic predecessor colleges: the Catholic College of Education Sydney in New South Wales, the Institute of Catholic Education in Victoria, McAuley College in Queensland, and Signadou College of Education in the Australian Capital Territory. Through a series of amalgamations, relocations, transfers of responsibilities and diocesan initiatives, more than 20 historical entities have contributed to the creation of ACU. These predecessor Colleges were committed to quality learning and teaching and strong relationships with students. ACU has inherited this in its DNA.
Those who worked tirelessly for the establishment of ACU had a vision of a university that would focus on the needs of the society, particularly in teaching and health care, be an advocate for the marginalised and offer a spiritual dimension to an increasingly secular Australia.
It is true that we are challenged in many ways and sometimes practicality compromises our idealism, but we have held true to that vision and indeed successive generations of staff and students have taken that vision to new courses, campuses and strategies. This is a year for us to celebrate each of our contributions to a project larger and more enduring than our careers, a project which has and does transform lives and our society.
Over the past 25 years, the University has gone from strength to strength, and ACU is now Australia’s leading Catholic university and an important institution internationally. Together with other organisations, ACU prepares people for future employment in our schools, hospitals, government and corporate organisations and not-for-profit organisations.
We often speak proudly of ACU’s size. In higher education size does matter. Our achievements however are made by individuals. By staff members who put students at the centre in a very personal and relational way, by students and graduates who take pride in the university and go on to shape our communities through their professional service. The contribution each of us makes is important and significant. When we pull together the synergy is powerful and the collaboration joyful. Funnily enough these are signs of the Spirit.
An anniversary year is an excellent occasion to build community and organisational culture. The many events and celebrations planned for ACU this year will bring staff, students, the Catholic community and members of the public together and facilitate new introductions, collaborations and conversations to inspire our University’s future. The pace of change in the tertiary education sector is rapid and 2015 is an important time to take stock and re-focus for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
2015 is also a year to feel proud of your work at ACU. I encourage you all to attend a graduation ceremony or graduation mass this year, to meet the families of the students as they celebrate their achievements and to experience first-hand the transformative effect of your work on students’ lives.
ACU can be very proud of its achievements over the last 25 years and we look forward to celebrating the journey travelled thus far. We also look forward to continuing the story of ACU’s commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person and service the common good.
Professor Anne Cummins Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning and Teaching)