Alumni News

Season’s Greetings from UniSA’s VC

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For UniSA 2017 was a year of consolidation, a hiatus between our 25th birthday celebrations and the gala openings next year of our new Health Innovation Building and Pridham Hall when the party season starts up again. As busy as we were consolidating the business of education and research, launching UniSA Online and signing partnership agreements with powerhouses such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Crows Football team, we looked up and discovered that Times Higher Education had not only rated us as one of the best young universities in the world (an accolade we have become used to hearing) but they put us in the list of the world’s best universities of any age. We are now ranked at Number 9 in Australia, just behind the Group of 8 sandstones with their hundreds of years’ experience and hundreds of millions of dollars of endowments.

Thankfully we have our own generous alumni who have helped lead us to a place of great strength in the Australian higher education sector and who regularly excel in their chosen fields which reflects well on the education we gave them.

This year we inaugurated The Vice Chancellor’s International Alumni Leadership award that recognises the enormous value offered to the community by the people we graduate. In July in Singapore the award was made to Mr Andrew Chen, a Fellow of the University of South Australia, the founder and chief executive of the Asia Pacific Management Institute in Singapore, for his devotion to education and support of future leaders. That support comes to the tune of $100,000 donated to our scholarship funds.

In Malaysia the award was made to Mr Yeong Chee Meng, also a Fellow of the University of South Australia, who studied his Masters of Applied Science in Project Management with UniSA in 1994 and now runs a major hydropower project. He is also a donor to our scholarship fund because he believes that it is his responsibility to give back to his community some of the opportunities that education has given him.

In Hong Kong at the start of November the award was made to Dr Edward Lam who took his Masters of International Business Administration at UniSA and, with his own business, is a passionate supporter of small and medium enterprises in Hong Kong and is incredibly supportive of UniSA, mentoring students and giving them work opportunities.

And during the year we caught up with hundreds of our alumni at events in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide and it’s always a great pleasure to see how well you’re all doing and how effectively you’re putting your education to work.

As you would know, we celebrate four outstanding alumni each year in Adelaide. This year we chose fantastic examples of successful alumni, men and women who, although they come from completely different backgrounds, all share common values: to help their communities in humanitarian ways, to educate those with limited access to education and to serve their communities in whatever way they can.

Leon Choong added a Master of Arts (Communication Management) to an economics degree and became an advocate for educational innovation and creating new markets to help more people gain access to quality education.

Wawira Njiru was studying for her Bachelor of Nutrition and Food Sciences and organised a community fundraiser featuring Kenyan food. Six years on the money she raised had turned into a business, Food for Education, that provides around 1200 healthy meals a day for African students who were missing school because they were hungry.

Glenn Cooper AM (yes, he of your favourite beer) was an automotive electrician who moved into computing which led him to studying an Associate Diploma in Business at the South Australian Institute of Technology. He moved into the family brewing business and plays a key role in the Coopers Foundation which has given more than $4 million to charities involved in medical research and health care, youth education, aged care and family and community support.

Andrea Mason, now the Chief Executive Officer of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council, took a Bachelor of Aboriginal Affairs and Public Administration at the South Australian Institute of Technology, dreamt of working in remote communities and is now working to make a real difference to the lives of families and individuals in remote Australia.

We also initiated a new group of super donors, the Hetzel Group named for the late and much missed the Honourable Dr Basil Hetzel AC who was one of South Australia’s great contributors to public health and the intellectual life of the State.

The people who are now members of the Hetzel Group have donated more than $100,000 to the University. They are: Winemaker Wolf Blass AM DUniv; Bob and Gayle Cowan; Associate Professor Margaret Davy AM; former Chancellor Dr Ian Gould AM DUniv and his wife Christine; Tom Pearce; Emeritus Professor Kym Adey AM; Professor Peter Hoj DUniv; and Dr Pamela Ryan OAM DUniv.

There are some donors in this group who would prefer to remain anonymous and some who will be inducted in the future. There are also two other familiar names included in the group - both with Irish accents - who are known to wear stylish blue robes at our graduation ceremonies and are proud to give back as best they can.

It was a very satisfying year in many respects as we worked at building our plans for the future and next year we’ll start to see those plans come to fruition. Stay tuned for the official grand opening of Pridham Hall, MOD. and the Health Innovation Building. I hope that many of you will join us for the celebrations.

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