Australia Tour 2011 – Thursday Feb. 10

As I write this, I have a few hours down time after the conclusion of the Matariki Network meetings and before our alumni event later this evening.

At this morning’s Matariki meetings we continued yesterday’s discussions and agreed on some initiatives to follow up on with respect to future research conferences (using the inaugural one in Kingston last November as the example). It is likely that the next conference, to be hosted in Tubingen, will be on Bioethics and Policy issues. More details to be worked out in the coming months. The main criteria for having a research workshop under the Matariki ‘brand’ are that they be very oriented to pressing social problems, be interdisciplinary, draw on strengths at most or a majority of the member universities, and generate some concrete outcomes in publications and research applications. All the conferences are also to involve graduate and undergraduate students as well as faculty.

The rest of the morning was taken up with the annual business meeting.

MNU Board at 2011 meeting in Perth

With the Network now firmly established (though three of the current executive heads will be stepping down at their institutions within the next several months), the need for meetings of this kind every year is somewhat reduced, so the next one, to be held at Dartmouth College (the US member) will not occur till mid to late 2012. As one of the four executive heads whose term runs past that date, I was acclaimed as chair of the Network (the secretariat, ably run by Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor Sarah Todd, will remain at Otago, making my duties as chair not terribly onerous!). We bade goodbye to our colleagues after lunch. John Dixon and I will have a good deal to follow up on from these meetings when we return to Kingston.

Two final notes on the meeting. This morning we signed the MOU for the network, making it a legal entity among the institutions. At the same time, I also signed a separate bilateral MOU with Durham Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins,

Signing Durham bilateral MOU with Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins Feb 10 2011

dealing with particular programs between our institutions, especially on the graduate studies side.

I will update on the alumni reception a bit later on today.

Queen’s alumni in Perth

We had a good turnout at St George’s College, close to 30 alumni and their guests. Several were Australians who had done graduate work at Queen’s, before returning home (some as far back as the 70s), a few were Canadians who ended up here for ‘short periods’ and decided to prolong them. The youngest alum were two Science 04 grads, who brought along his parents, also alumni.

Queen's alumni in Perth area (and some guests) at our reception at St George's College Feb 10

We had some really good questions from the group, including curiosity about the academic planning process, about town-gown relations, and about alumni giving. This last gave me my opening to make the pitch for support. It was a good event and splendid to meet some of our most far flung alumni (it was pointed out that you cannot find a city in the world further away from Kingston than Perth–if you drilled a hole though Grant Hall you would emerge in the Indian Ocean not far from its UWA duplicate, Winthrop Hall!)

Friday is a travel day to Melbourne followed by the weekend, so I will next update the blog on Monday.

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