A message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning and Teaching) Professor Anne Cummins.
This is my last staff bulletin message at ACU. As I prepare to leave on Friday I have reflected on the years from 2008 until 2018.
My overriding sense is of gratitude for the rich experiences I have shared with you at ACU. Some of the highlights have been:
World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney where the ACU Red Jackets, designed by Mary Evripidou, stood out at the Racecourse Mass with Pope Benedict. I do confess that when the VC asked me to prepare for it I had to return to my office to Google it!
The privilege of attending the canonization of St Mary MacKillop of the Cross in Rome as Professor Marea Nicholson’s assistant. Showcasing ACU talent and assisting the Sisters of St Joseph in their celebration was a standout moment. Seeing Mary MacKillop’s banner unfurl at the Vatican reminded me of my primary school classrooms where her photogenic eyes followed you around the room and the sisters who spoke of her fondly saying one day she would be a Saint. I saw that day up close.
The Core Curriculum featured in heated debates when I was on the ACU Senate and took form in committees more recently. Teaching it in Rome, London and this year New York City was an opportunity to work closely with students and to understand more deeply their aspirations and concerns about their professional futures.
The Melbourne International Federation of Catholic Universities Conference led by the Provost, was a great celebration of Catholic Education across the globe. The Melbourne weather was atrocious but the community was warm and the common mission palpable. The Choir, with Professor Clare Johnson stepping in at the last moment due to the illness of our director, was superb.
Meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican Conferences was a huge and humbling honor. He has that capacity to focus in and make you feel you are the only person there and that you are fully accepted. It was extraordinary.
Preparing parts of the 25th Anniversary of ACU was also memorable. Working with John Hirst, Julian Lesser and Megan Fauvet on the history was fun. The parties and the renewed friendships helped us to remember who we are. We also enjoyed the wine until quite recently!
These were great events but there have been sad times too. The deaths of colleagues and students. Campus Ministry has supported us and helped us celebrate these moments too. Our chapels have become sacred places and hold these memories with us.
There have been everyday moments, building new programs and services, new properties, new systems. Change plans, budget cuts, new costs, new opportunities. Life keeps moving in higher education. Through the ups and downs there have been some consistencies, things which I suspect are in the ACU DNA and have roots in the predecessor colleges:
Our commitment to students. I see staff do heroic things to support students and make them feel welcome.
The collegiality that makes us great collaborators and enables ACU to succeed despite geography, community expectations and the resources available.
The willingness to confront our Mission and to seek the common good which brings us back to the vulnerable and our wish to serve.
I don’t see ACU through rose-coloured glasses. Sometimes it disappoints me, but then I see a random act of kindness or a student thriving and I know that despite the rough patches and our human frailties, we do a great job at being a community for others.
As I leave for another adventure in life I will be very proud to have worked with you and will know that ACU will continue to invest in a more just Australia and a renewed Catholic Church.