UNSW CHANCELLOR VISITS NEW COLLEGE FOR COMMENCEMENT DINNER
The 2007 Commencement dinner was held recently, at which current and former residents were recognised for their academic achievement.
University prize and award winners were acknowledged and the 2006 New College Academic Prizes were presented by Guest Speaker Mr David Gonski AO, Chancellor of the University.
The College community received strong results with 45% receiving a distinction average and a further 11% high distinction average in 2006. The 2006 grade point average mark for the whole College was 73.
New College Academic awards were presented by the Chancellor to the six student residents who had received the highest marks in their discipline Michael Abbott - Commerce/Science; Robert Gerrand - Electrical Engineering; Tim Burgess - Materials Engineering; Jane Barr – Optometry; Gyongyi Horvath - International Studies and Jad Othman – Medicine.
Major University prizes were awarded to four current residents - The Chinese Language Prize: Gyongyi Horvath; The Sheila Rimmer AM Prize: Kristen Dumitrescu; The Environmental Engineering Practice Prize: Kate Basset; The Head of School's Prize in Mathematics: Michael Abbott.
Three former residents were also awarded University prizes - The Unions NSW Industrial Relations Prize: Anthony Samson (New College 2003-2004); The Era Polymers Prize in Industrial Chemistry & The Samos Polymers Prize in Advanced Polymers: Carla Bissett (New College 2002-2004) and The John Harrison Prize: Dean McGeary (New College 2004-2006).
Another resident, Johanna Elms, was honoured for her significant achievement in receiving an Order of Australia Association prize from the Governor General for leadership and service.
Also at the dinner the 2007 Stuart Barton Babbage Fellow Rebecca Barnes and the 2007 Student President Adam Sauverain were both formally introduced and welcomed by the College community. Rebecca Barnes is currently working on her PhD project looking at helping developing regions with water engineering. Her project aims to improve the planning processes used in supplying water and sanitation to the poor. She is doing her fieldwork studies in rural communities in the Northern Philippines.
There was an inspired musical item Meditation by Massenet performed by Miranda Shatwell and accompanied by Jonathan Barnett.
The Chancellor addressed the dinner after the formal ceremonial had concluded. Mr Gonski gave an inspiring and challenging key note address to the 260 people gathered. Mr Gonski encouraged those in attendance to be broad rather than focused on one particular thing to the detriment of all other pursuits. In doing so, he put forward his personal view of success – that is, to be postively remembered. This was unlikely to be the case were one to focus purely on business or law, for example. Those that are remembered positively are those who have made a difference to the lives of others who have not necessarily had the same opportunities in life.
Mr Gonski spoke of some of his interests and passions that have drawn him towards being involved in different arts bodies, philanthropic activities and development projects and encouraged his audience to do what they are passionate about and to find a way to make a difference in the world for others. Mr Gonski argued that in thirty years time, Bill Gates will not be remembered for his work in founding Microsoft, but instead will be remembered for his work in helping the poor and arresting disease in countries across the world.
In discussing the value of breadth over limiting one’s self to one particular endeavour, Mr Gonski also presented his vision for the campus of UNSW. Rather than becoming a specialised university, UNSW should remain committed to teaching across a wide range of disciplines. Campus life needs to be encouraged as well – not just the academic side of campus living but the sporting side, the artistic side and the involvement in clubs and societies. As part of his vision for creating a rich campus life, Mr Gonski stressed the need for more accommodation on campus to encourage people to be involved in the wider life of the university. New College looks forward to working with the Chancellor to see this vision realised.