With the many other extraordinary events of 2020, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Sir Samuel Griffith, the man after whom our university was named, and a key figure in the creation of Australia as a single nation.  I was delighted and honoured that the current Chief Justice of Australia, the Honourable Susan Kiefel AM, delivered the 2020 Sir Samuel Griffith Lecture and shared her reflections on the contributions of the Sir Samuel Griffith.  His life was marked by public service to both Queensland and to the Commonwealth which he helped to bring into existence. Chief Justice Kiefel is herself an eminent figure and was the first woman to be appointed Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia on 30 January 2017. She has been recognised for her trailblazing achievements both domestically and internationally, including by Griffith University which made her an honorary doctor of the university in 2009.

As I write for this newsletter, we continue to receive feedback from staff, students and alumni on the proposed changes to Griffith as part of our Roadmap to Sustainability program. This program was established in recognition of the longer-term financial impact and challenges faced by Griffith and the broader higher education sector in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with most other universities, Griffith has experienced a sharp downturn in revenue due to the loss of international students. The University will consider all feedback before making recommendations for consideration by our governing body, Council in December. Please accept my assurance that we are doing all that we can to ensure that Griffith remains a wonderful place to study, undertake research and work into the future.

In what has been a difficult and challenging year for us all, for our families and communities, I am delighted to celebrate the success of staff, alumni and members of the Griffith community:

This newsletter features Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM from Menzies Health Institute Queensland’s Griffith Centre for Biomedical and Rehabilitation Engineering (GCORE), who is the 2021 Queensland Australian of the Year. Dr Palipana has been recognised for his continued work and advocacy for inclusivity in medical education and employment, for people with disabilities. The national award winners will be announced on 25 January 2021.

Griffith University’s commitment to leading research has been recognised again with the Federal Government awarding more than $5.4 million in Australian research Council grants. Fourteen Griffith University research projects were awarded over $5.4 million Australian Research Council (ARC) funding in the ARC Discovery Project and Linkage Project schemes, as approved by the Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan MP on 13 November 2020.

An Australian-first rehabilitation trial considered the next crucial step in treating paralysis will proceed after a record donation from the country’s leading spinal injury research foundation. The $450,000 commitment from the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation will allow five people with paralysis to complete an intensive 16-week training program at a state-of-the-art facility to test the feasibility of a planned Griffith University human clinical trial.

Griffith University MBA program was identified as the top program in the world for the first time in the 18 years history of the Corporate Knights ranking. Particularly pleasing for us given our commitment to inclusivity and environmental sustainability; this ranking particularly recognised the MBAs focus on sustainability and acknowledge the improvement in gender and racial diversity among faculty staff.

In a similar vein, Griffith was also recognised as the 2020 Diversity Employer of the Year (Enterprise) at the third annual Women in Digital Awards. At the University we have a strong commitment to a diverse workforce.

Griffith University’s Innocence Project recently announced the new team who will continue the work to fight miscarriages of justice. This collaborative pro bono project brings together lawyers, academics and law students to work on freeing people who have been wrongly convicted in Australia. The professional mentors are Griffith University law graduates themselves, and were part of the Innocence Project during their studies.

Finally, three Queensland Conservatorium alumni have been nominated for ARIA Awards. Katie Noonan is up for Best Jazz Album, Megan Washington is nominated for Best Comedy Release and piano virtuoso Jayson Gillham is in the running for Best Classical Album.

I hope you enjoy this edition of the Alumni Newsletter featuring stories from our illustrious alumni.

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