It’s strange, but most things went to plan in Burgmann’s 51st year… After a bumpy start (thanks again, COVID) there was an almost full year of uninterrupted university with no further lockdowns! O’Week, Monsterbrain, Bar nights & the Ball, Dawborn, Sports and Art shields, Luigi’s, even the dreaded September study fluff all happened when they normally do. Like the rest of Australia, COVID was a continuing scourge, but study and social lives set the Burgmann agenda rather than the pandemic. Long may this continue!
I’m pleased to say that Burgmann alumni events also emerged from their lock down slumbers. We held successful alumni get togethers in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. It’s great to catch up with friends and to confirm that they are aging gracefully. These get togethers are now part of our annual program, so keep a look out for invitations and encourage other Burgies to come along. And if you’d like to organise an event - anywhere in the world - please let us know.
Of course, the highlight of the year was the Back-to-Burg 50th Anniversary weekend. It was worth the wait! Many generations of Burgmann residents came together to catch up with their mates and to celebrate the triumphs of our great college. Attendees came from all round Australia and we had residents attend from every one of Burgmann’s 50 years in operation. We had amazing speeches from Sally, 2022 BRA President Bas Braham, and Dr Peter Garrett AM (who spoke on the life, vision and contribution of Burgmann’s first BRA President, Richard Cook). We also celebrated the second year of the Burgmann College Alumni Awards. Congratulations, John, Yasmin, Asmi, and Vicki! If you haven’t seen them already, see an outline of their achievements here.
As the evening wound down there was an awe-inspiring visitation of St Beryl and her extraordinary leaping nuns (you had to be there to believe it!). St Beryl and her nuns then inspired a spontaneous, multi-generational dance to one of Burgmann’s unofficial anthems, New Order’s iconoclastic; Blue Monday. What better way to end an evening! Many thanks to the organisers of the weekend and I can’t wait to next year’s Back-to-Burg Weekend.
At all the events and activities of 2022, what has struck me is the Burgmann community’s common understanding of the College’s robust, egalitarian culture and our joy in remembering the various legendary Burgmann events and adventures through the years. I also sense that we have all come to realise that Burgmann is an institution with an outstanding history and ethos that goes beyond the goings-on at college. Burgmann now boasts a multi generation diaspora who have extended Burgmann’s mojo out into the world.
What also struck me was a universal interest in sustaining and enhancing the ‘Burgmann experience’ and to sustain Burgmann through its next 50 years, and beyond. There was strong interest in Burgmann’s plans to build up its endowment to help ensure Burgmann is continues to foster and support a diverse and awesome community into the future. There was also a great deal of interest in Burgmann’s Master Plan to upgrade an extend Burgmann’s buildings and facilities. I’m pleased to say that this interest is turning into action, with a growing number of Burgmann alumni contributing to the Bursary Fund and for important upgrades to college facilities. I’m pleased to say that work will soon start on the refurbishment of the BBQ and back-courtyard garden, including (shock!) the creation of an exit from the bar to the new courtyard. Talk about historic!
With this in mind the newly elected BCAA Committee would welcome anyone interested in getting involved with the Alumni Association or helping out with the overall engagement programme, please get in touch with us. It will be fun!
Finally, I would like to congratulate two founding alumni, Robin Brown and Peter Garrett, who were recently conferred as Honorary Fellows of Burgmann College. This Fellowship is the College’s highest form of recognition and is given to those who bring lasting honour to Burgmann College and its residents through outstanding service and achievement.
It has been a vital part of Burgmann’s credibility and mystique to have one of our nation’s rock icons as an early alumnus; but of course, Peter’s contribution to a proud and modern Australia is much more profound. I remember dancing to ‘Beds are Burning’ at a 1989 Burgmann bar night and being struck by the ambitious compassion and its energizing demand that Australia properly engage with First Nations people. Since then, I think we have made progress in unifying the Australian story and I would hope that the Burgmann alumni continue to make a vital contribution to that progress.
Robin has also brought ambitious compassion to his life’s work and the many areas of leadership and support he has given his community and country. For Burgmann, Robin was the first president of the Alumni Association, he has been a long-standing member of Council and Board. Robin’s outstanding support to Burgmann and his enduring injection of fairness and integrity into the administration of Burgmann is surely deserving of another outstanding rock song!
Photos (from top):
Burgmann Alumni Event, Newtown Hotel Sydney, April 2022
Alumni attending Back-to-Burg Weekend, August 2022
Burgmann Alumni Event, Fathers Speakeasy Melbourne, June 2022
Alumni attending Honorary Fellowship Conferral, November 2022
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