Powered by UNSW, Sunswift solar champs, record Indigenous Medicine grads and senior appointments – 1 November 2023

01 Nov 2023
VC and Matt Thistlewaite

Dear colleagues

The violence, terror and plight of people in the Middle East is continuing to have a considerable impact on many of our students and colleagues, not only those with families and friends who are directly involved in these events but those exposed to an appalling resurgence in vilification. It is crucial that in these times we continue to show kindness, to support each other and be aware of those who are finding the situation especially distressing and challenging. Please remember that UNSW has a range of support services available for students and staff, including the Student Support Team, and a confidential counselling service for staff and their families through the Employee Assistance Program.

I again ask and remind every person in the UNSW community to behave in a respectful, considerate manner towards their peers and colleagues at this sensitive time, and always.

‘Powered by UNSW’ a capital showcase

We held the inaugural and successful ‘Powered by UNSW’ showcase at Australian Parliament House recently. It was invaluable to gather our biggest names in education, research and innovation in the workplace of Australia’s decision-makers, and to listen to parliamentarians and departmental leaders outline their key priorities.

Our parliamentary guests included 15 MPs, with speeches from the Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Member for Kingsford Smith, Assistant Minister for Defence, Veterans' Affairs and the Republic; the Hon. Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education; and Senator the Hon. Anthony Chisholm, Assistant Minister for Education, Assistant Minister for Regional Development. We discussed how we can support our nation’s leaders and policy makers to respond to some of the most pressing challenges Australia faces today and in the future, in fields where UNSW has leading expertise: renewable energy, cities of the future, waste recycling, defence, artificial intelligence, teaching, knowledge translation and entrepreneurship among them.

UNSW Law & Justice student Emily Ramsay (pictured with Matt Thistlethwaite and me, above) spoke with passion and conviction about how her education at UNSW prepared and inspired her to seek employment in juvenile justice.

The event sparked many conversations and ideas, laying the groundwork to solve some of society’s biggest challenges together. A huge thank you to our experts for sharing their time so generously, and to the Government Relations team for creating this invaluable opportunity to advance our societal impact.

Indigenous Medicine graduates double year-on-year

I am delighted to share very positive news from the Faculty of Medicine & Health.

This year, the number of Indigenous students graduating with a Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine will be UNSW’s highest yet: at least double last year’s graduate number. No fewer than 10 First Nations students are set to complete their medical degrees in 2023, with the potential for several more to graduate too.

Many colleagues will know first-hand the length and demands of a medical degree (the rest of us can assume, pretty rightly!) so it is wonderful to know about the great support network that has developed among many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medicine students during their academic careers.

Indigenous students
Above: Indigenous UNSW Medicine students Elki, Elle and Nikita, who have supported each other through their studies and are now supporting students who are coming through.

My warmest congratulations to the students who will graduate this year. Thank you to the Faculty and our wonderful colleagues at Nura Gili who do so much for the Indigenous student community. Thank you also to students and staff right across UNSW who are supporting the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in UNSW Medicine & Health, including our colleagues at Shalom College who, through the Gamarada Scholarship Program, support a significant proportion of the Indigenous medical students.

UNSW is committed to creating an environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, researchers and staff to thrive. I want to make sure we put the UNSW Indigenous Strategy at the heart of everything we do.

Vice-President Societal Impact, Equity & Engagement and PVC Inclusion

I am delighted to announce that UNSW has made two appointments for the new Division of Societal Impact, Equity & Engagement: our inaugural Vice-President Societal Impact, Equity & Engagement, and Pro Vice-Chancellor Inclusion.

The Hon. Professor Verity Firth AM has been appointed as the inaugural Vice-President Societal Impact, Equity & Engagement. Prof. Firth has over 20 years’ experience at the very highest levels of government, universities and the not-for-profit sector in Australia.

I invite you to read more about Prof. Firth’s appointment here.

Verity will commence at UNSW on 5 February 2024.

Professor Bruce Watson has been appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor Inclusion. Bruce, an architect, has an accomplished career at UNSW that began as a tutor in 2000, and a lecturer in 2001, in the Faculty of Built Environment. This year Bruce has been acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity Diversity & Inclusion.

I invite you to read more about Prof. Watson’s appointment here.

Please join me in congratulating Verity and Bruce on their appointments.

PVC International appointed to Global Team

In another excellent appointment for UNSW, I am pleased to advise that Professor Lisa Zamberlan has been appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor International.

Lisa brings a wealth of experience from an accomplished career at UNSW over many years, including as Discipline Director, UNSW Interior Architecture (Hons) Program. In September 2022, Lisa was appointed acting PVC International, deftly advancing UNSW’s international strategy while continuing her role of Associate Dean International in the Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture. Lisa has an impressive track record in international engagement and building strategic relationships, having represented UNSW in high-level delegations with transnational partners and contributed to raising the profile of transnational education credentials not only for UNSW, but for Australia.

Lisa is part of the University Office of Global Affairs (UOGA) that is led by Professor Colin Grant, DVC Global. Please join me in congratulating Lisa on her appointment.

Meet the whole UOGA team in this week’s Inside UNSW.

Arc Phil’ Fun-a-Thon – $55k and counting!

If you noticed a whole heap of students having a whole heap of fun on 18 or 19 October, it was quite possibly on account of Arc’s annual Phil’ Fun-a-Thon 24-hour fundraising marathon for the Child Life and Music Therapy units at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick. I dropped by to see what all the fun was about, and I had the pleasure of meeting Elyse Hayhurst, the Phil’ Student Coordinator at Arc.

Elyse and her colleagues at Arc organised a brilliant event, showing dedication and generosity that personify the UNSW vision for societal impact. Fun-a-Thon 2023 has already smashed the year’s goal of $50,000, with $55,000 raised so far – and more than $500,000 raised since it began in 2016. Donations are open until the end of the year, here.

Phil Fun a Thon
Above: VC Prof. Attila Brungs with Arc Phil’ Student Coordinator, Elyse Hayhurst and Arc CEO, Shelley Valentine.

Sunswift Racing Team - another great moment in the sun!

Over the weekend we received the wonderful news that UNSW Sunswift Racing had won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (CSIRO Cruiser Class), with an awesome – and not uneventful – journey from Darwin to Adelaide.

This is an incredible achievement by a dedicated group of students led by team principal, Professor of Practice Richard Hopkins. The win is a result of a huge group effort including the students who design, build and run the car and academics from Engineering, Science and ADA who guide and assist. Well done to all involved!

Above: Sunswift 7 during the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, en route to taking out the Cruiser Class Championship in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

The Sunswift team was announced as the winner of the Cruiser Class at an awards ceremony in Adelaide on Sunday. The full story is one of challenge and triumph. It’s a great credit to the whole Sunswift Team and an excellent example of UNSW’s world-leading solar power credentials. Read more about Sunswift Racing’s victory on the Newsroom.

Best regards

Professor Attila Brungs
Vice-Chancellor and President