Bathed in UniSA blue, the 25th Birthday Gala Dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre certainly reflected the generosity and warmth of the University community.
With a goal to raise money for scholarships for the next generations of UniSA students and at the same time, to celebrate the success of the University in its 25th year, the Gala Dinner raised about $250,000 and guests danced on until midnight to the jumping jazz tunes of the James Morrison Academy Band. It was mission accomplished.
MC and UniSA graduate in journalism, Jessica Adamson, opened the evening with a story about how meeting Prime Minister Bob Hawke as a child by offering him a sweet, then writing to him and receiving a response, all came together to inspire her to study journalism. With the former Prime Minister and long-time UniSA supporter in the room, she was able to thank him for his inspiration and thank UniSA for what she said was an educational experience she “loved”.
And the atmosphere of aspiration and achievement was palpable all evening. Conversations buzzed with stories of university days – of goals and study choices, careers made and restarted, and of “great moments in education”.
Those attending represented the heart and history of the UniSA community - current academic and professional staff and their partners and friends; representatives from UniSA’s many industry partners; graduates in every field; and those who have made a huge impact on shaping the University, including former Vice Chancellors Professors Peter Hoj and Denise Bradley, the former Chancellor Dr Ian Gould and David Klingberg and many former Pro Vice Chancellors and heads of research institutes from around the state and the nation.
Reflecting on the past, Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd said UniSA was a University of Enterprise from the outset.
“From the very beginning UniSA differentiated itself from the other two universities in South Australia by stressing access and equity, links to the community and links with the workplace,” he said.
“We had a long history, through the South Australian Institute of Technology and College of Advanced Education, of working in partnership with industry and the professions.
“The Institute was also home to one of the best examples of Aboriginal education programs in Australia, the Aboriginal Task Force and the South Australian College of Advanced Education had the largest number of Aboriginal enrolments in higher education in Australia.”
Among many “firsts” he noted that the fledgling UniSA offered the first Masters degree in the world in distance education and had appointed Professor Eleanor Ramsey, Australia’s first Pro Vice Chancellor whose only focus was on equity.
Prof Lloyd paid tribute to the founding leaders of UniSA – John McDonald and Professor Alan Mead, Foundation Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, and those who came after - Vice Chancellors Professors David Robinson, Denise Bradley, and Peter Høj and Chancellors Dr Basil Hetzel, David Klingberg and Ian Gould, noting their contributions to the evolution of the university in its character and achievements.
“Twenty-five years on we are stronger than ever,” Prof Lloyd said.
“We’re considered one of the world’s very best young universities by all the rankings that matter.
“Just last year 97 per cent of our research was assessed as world class or above in the Excellence in Research for Australia, making us eighth in the country on our performance.
“We are Australia’s number one University for industry-derived income and the youngest in the country to receive five stars in research.
“We’re also number one in South Australia for graduate careers and we are the highest ranked university in Australia for the international diversity of our staff, bringing enormous benefit to our students.”
Looking to the future he also took the opportunity to announce some exciting new developments for the University including an exciting partnership with the Calvary Hospital Group to advance a new and ground-breaking UniSA Clinical School.
From 2017, dedicated student accommodation through a new and exciting partnership between UniSA and Urbanest North Terrace on North Terrace, along with a partnership with Santos and University College London to support new and dedicated funded research fellowships at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute.
Thanking academic and professional staff, friends and partners – Prof Lloyd gave special thanks to all the donors who support the University by making access and equity a reality for hundreds of students to share the wealth and opportunities that knowledge brings them.
“I am proud to know all of you and I thank you for your minds, your hearts and your benevolence,” he said.
Find out more about the 25th Birthday Scholarship Fund created to provide scholarships, grants and prizes.
A few items from the Gala Dinner Silent Auction are still available for bidding on, see what is on offer here.
For more images from the event click here.