A very warm welcome to you all for 2015. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and are rested and ready to tackle the new year. This year will have a strong focus on strengthening ties.
I am currently in the United States attending meetings and formalising agreements which will ensure ACU continues to strengthen its connections not only with the Catholic world, but with some of the greatest universities around the globe.
My first stop was the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) 2015 Annual Meeting, held from 31 January to 2 February. ACCU is the peak body representing Catholic universities in North America, and more than 237 Catholic universities worldwide are members, with ACU being in fact the largest.
The theme of this year's meeting was "Bold Vision, Courageous Voices: Forming a New Generation." Catholic higher education has always had a distinctive outlook, drawing upon its faith tradition, its commitment to engage the culture, and its role as a prophetic voice. Today, when headlines paint a bleak picture of higher education, with tales of imposed rating systems, strained finances, and a focus on research intensification, our sector can interject a unique voice. The aim of this year’s meeting was to explore ways to harness the hope and vitality of our campuses—embodied in our staff and students —to confront these challenges and nurture tomorrow’s leaders with an informed heart and an inspired mind.
The occasion also gave me an opportunity to meet with a significant number of presidents and provosts of Catholic universities in North America and personally invite them to the International Federation of Catholic Universities 25th General Assembly that ACU will host at our Melbourne Campus in July.
While in Washington, the Provost, Professor Pauline Nugent, and I will also be meeting with the President of the Catholic University of America to formally sign the Memorandum of Understanding for our joint Rome Study Centre.
Bringing together students and academics from both universities, the new centre will offer opportunities for study and research that are grounded in a commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition. It is ACU’s first overseas study centre, and a significant milestone to achieve in the year that we are celebrating our 25 year history.
Professor Nugent and I will also visit be visiting Georgetown University, and Fordham University and St John’s University in New York City to further strengthen the relationships between our institutions. I will also have the opportunity to meet with His Eminence, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, on this visit.
I look forward to the many important events, celebrations, and milestones that are planned for 2015, and thank you all for your continued hard work and dedication. Professor Greg Craven Vice-Chancellor