To be read at the University of Melbourne Alumni Association Singapore (UMAAS) hosted 160th Anniversary Dinner of the University of Melbourne
Saturday 25 May at the Singapore Swimming Club
Colleagues and friends:
It is wonderful to have this opportunity to send my warmest greetings to you all, all the way from the University of Melbourne to the Singapore Swimming Club.
I am also pleased to have this opportunity to share some reflections about an important milestone – your University’s 160th Anniversary.
The University of Melbourne was established in 1853, an extraordinary period in Australia. Gold had recently been discovered in Victoria, sparking a great wave of immigration from around the world. This had a huge impact on the development of Melbourne and the University.
Over 160 years, we are proud to have been an integral part of the development of the city of Melbourne and the nation of Australia. The University educated Prime Ministers including Alfred Deakin, Sir Robert Menzies, Harold Holt and Julia Gillard, and many Premiers of our state. From the time of the Colombo Plan in the 1950s and ‘60s, our international students and alumni have done themselves and their university proud. Singapore has become one of our largest alumni communities outside of Australia, with more than 4200 graduates. We are proud, too, of the significant contribution many alumni in Singapore have made to industry, the professions and community. As I well recall from an earlier visit, Melbourne alumni in Singapore played a vital role in the design and construction of the city itself. At Parkville, we are immensely proud of this continuing connection.
As cities develop and grow, so the University of Melbourne has changed hugely over 160 years. From a small institution educating a handful of students, it has developed into a community of over 7000 staff serving 45,000 students, and a global alumni community of more than 300,000.
Research has grown to the point where the University now conducts a major proportion of total research in Australia. We have produced three Nobel Prize winners, and stand clearly today as the leading research university in Australia.
Over the years, the campus has also changed dramatically. Much of our campus character has been shaped through the generous gifts of philanthropists, alumni and parents of former students, including our famous Old Arts building Clock tower, our centre for graduations, Wilson Hall, and the rapidly emerging, newly-designed Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning building (presently under construction).
As Vice-Chancellor, I am deeply grateful to UMAAS and all its members and supporters, for your continued involvement with your University. I am sorry I cannot join you this evening but I wish you a wonderful celebration of your alma mater’s 160th year, and a most memorable event. I also look forward to meeting you all in person on my next visit to Singapore.