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August 10, 2014 | by  | in Features |
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Being proud

Despite being relatively new to Victoria, I feel a strong sense of pride in what has been achieved here and what I know we are going to achieve in the future. Many staff share this sentiment and I hope many students do too.

I would like to reflect on some of the things about Victoria that students can be proud of.

New Zealand is an egalitarian, diverse, multicultural society with deep roots in the Asia-Pacific and a unique cultural and natural heritage. These features of Aotearoa are reflected here, through you, through our staff, our history, our academic programmes and our culture.

As a Victoria student, you can be confident in the knowledge that you are being educated at a globally ranked and respected university that offers a wide range of high-quality study options. We are well within the best 300 of the world’s 7,000 universities and within the top 150 in areas such as law, humanities, business, education and earth sciences. When you graduate, you will not only have a specialised understanding of your field of study, but will also have learned skills in thinking critically, creatively and independently and in communicating effectively. You will also understand and be able to display intellectual independence and integrity. All of this will make you highly sought after in the workplace.

You can also be proud of studying at a university that is renowned for its intellectual influence.

Victoria was founded in the same era as the ‘red brick’ civic universities of England which championed a tradition of civic engagement. For Victoria, being a civic university is intertwined with our capital city location, our connections and our academic strengths. You will regularly see examples of the unique and leading role we play in informing public debate and decisions through our research, critical inquiry and our commitment to speaking truth to power. I hope we all feel proud of, for example, Professor Jonathan Boston’s work on child poverty, Professor Tim Naish’s research into climate change, Dr Alan Gamlen’s work on emigration and inequality, and Professor Rawinia Higgins leadership on protecting Te Reo Māori. It is affirming to note that this expertise is not limited to issues being debated within our shores—Victoria also influences thinking in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

I encourage you to take pride in our alumni which include some extremely eminent individuals. For instance, Richard Maclaurin, an early Dean of Law, is credited with securing the financial future of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), now one of the world’s leading universities. Victoria chemistry graduate Alan MacDiarmid won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Victoria remains one of only two New Zealand universities to have produced a Nobel Laureate. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister. Sir Kenneth Keith, a judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, is a graduate of Victoria and there are many, many more, very distinguished alumni.

There is much respect in the community and in other universities for our leadership programmes, such as Victoria Plus, and for the support we offer to first year students, Māori and Pasifika students, students with disabilities, and the international students who choose to study here.

Finally, I want to note the positive relationship at Victoria between students and staff, something not all New Zealand universities can boast of. Here, I am proud to say there is meaningful and respectful interaction between the two groups at many levels.

Grant Guilford, Vice-Chancellor

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