A Message from the Dean of Arts

It’s an exciting time of year for the Faculty as we conclude teaching for Semester Two, prepare for the busy graduation period and look forward to welcoming a new cohort of Arts graduates to our Alumni network.

It’s also a time of change and of reflection for me as I prepare to leave my role as Dean and take up the position of University of Melbourne Provost in February 2018.

We’ve seen many changes within the Faculty of Arts during my time as Dean and, as alumni, many of you will have also been a part of these changes. These have included the establishment of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, broadening and diversification of our international partnerships, substantial growth among our student numbers and significant expansion of the enrichment and work-integrated-learning opportunities that are offered to our students. Most recently, we opened Arts West, a significant milestone for the Faculty that firmly embeds object-based pedagogy and digital technology in our curriculum and provides a new home for our Bachelor of Arts students.

I’ve been honored to work with many acclaimed colleagues, alumni and philanthropic supporters over my time as Dean, all of whom have helped build the Faculty’s reputation as a leading institution for study and research in humanities, languages and social sciences. I will miss my work in Arts but look forward to continuing to engage with the Faculty and its partners and stakeholders in my new role. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this edition of ARTiculation.

This year, the Faculty of Arts will pilot a series of career planning workshops for our graduating cohort of Bachelor of Arts students. Featuring mock interviews, practical advice and tips on sources of employment, networking and communication skills (including the effective use of social media), these workshops are designed as the perfect complement to our students’ University education. We look forward to hearing how our graduating cohort enjoys the pilot program.

In this edition of ARTiculation, you can read about an Honorary doctorate for Ronald Ridley, Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. Bestowed by Macquarie University, this award recognises Professor Ridley’s research and study of the ancient world and his extensive literary contributions including more than one hundred published chapters and articles. A long-serving University of Melbourne academic, Professor Ridley began his career as a researcher, teacher and supervisor in the then History Department in 1962. I’m sure many of our alumni will remember Professor Ridley and join me in congratulating him on this significant achievement.

In October, the University of Melbourne conferred an Honorary Doctorate to the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, during his official visit to Australia. Awarded in recognition of Michael Higgins’ significant role in advancing the arts, humanities and education, the conferral ceremony was followed by a keynote address centred on economics and its Irish and Australian dimensions. Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis took this opportunity to announce the appointment of Professor Ronan McDonald as the next Gerry Higgins Chair of Irish Studies. Ronan is currently Professor of Modern Literature and Head of Irish Studies at the University of New South Wales. He has been an Associate Director of the renowned Yeats International Summer School for 2016 and 2017 and will join the University in February 2018, located in the School of Culture and Communication in the English and Theatre Studies program.

Other recent Faculty announcements include the appointment of Dr Alexis Wright to the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature. Dr Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the Gulf of Carpentaria. She is the author of the novel Carpentaria, which won five national literary awards in 2007, including the ASAL Gold Medal and the Miles Franklin Award. Her appointment will see her undertake a range of teaching and learning and engagement activities and playing a key role in the important partnership between the University and State Library Victoria.

Similarly recognised is Professor Cordelia Fine, who won the esteemed 30th anniversary Royal Society Insight Investment Science Books Prize for her book Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of our Gendered Minds.

You can also read about the winner of the Kate Challis RAKA Award for best stage play, Jub Clerc. Administered by the University’s Australian Centre, and made possible by the generosity of Professor Emeritus Bernard Smith, this award for Indigenous creative artists has been won by Jub for her debut play The Fever and the Fret.

We love hearing of the successes and achievements of our staff and graduates, but an equally important aspect of University life is the development of life-long friendships. Tarang Chawla and Robert White met in the second year of their Bachelor of Arts and have been firm friends ever since. I hope you enjoy reading the story of their friendship and of Tarang’s recent Rising Star Award.

And finally, a reminder to all our alumni to keep an eye on the Events pages of our website where you can register to join us at an extensive array of masterclasses, lectures and events scheduled for 2018.

Best wishes to all our local and international alumni for a successful 2018.