Burgmann College WEB 104

Principal Sally Renouf's reflections | Semester 1 2021

We had a tremendous start to our 50th Anniversary year, with thanks to the energy and thoughtfulness of our staff, members of our 2021 residential leadership team, and our enthusiastic volunteers.

In particular, I want to thank Matthew Lobb and the other members of our Burgmann College Alumni Association Committee for their dedicated support in the planning of the Back-to-Burg Alumni Weekend and launch of the Burgmann College Alumni Awards this year.

While the pandemic continues to present some challenges, we are incredibly fortunate to have been able to run a considerable number of events in Semester 1, including the much anticipated 50th Anniversary Burg Day, complete with brick race and blessing from St Beryl.

Our 50th celebrations were launched with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony by Ngambri Elder Dr Aunty Matilda House on 13 February—the perfect event to welcome our 170 new residents and our returning residents to College prior to the start of O-week.

Highlights of the semester included welcoming our new Residential Fellow, Associate Professor Kim Cunio, and wife Heather Lee to our community, and celebrating our 50th Anniversary Commencement Dinner at the National Arboretum on 4 March. Honorary Fellow and 1971 resident Judy Middlebrook and 2020 BRA President Ben Jefferson delivered our Commencement address, reflecting on Burgmann ‘then and now’. Guests were treated to a stunning performance of Giacomo Puccini’s “Un bel dì vedremo” from Madame Butterfly by Village resident Meredith Cheng.

Amongst our many special guests were Wal and Pam Beckhouse OAM. Wal was the Maintenance Manager and worked at Burgmann for 25 years from 1979 to 2004. He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2012 for his work as a returned services league volunteer. Pam was honoured with the same in 2018 for her service to people with a disability.

During the event, Bevan Rossjohn and Benjamin Jefferson were each awarded a College Medal for their extraordinary academic results and contribution to College life. Bevan was recognised for his exceptional achievements in the degree of Bachelor of Finance, Economics and Statistics with Honours, attaining a perfect GPA of 7 over three years of fulltime study. Ben was recognised for his exceptional achievements in the double degree of Bachelor of Economics/Bachelor of Arts, attaining a GPA of 6.78, as well as for his significant contribution to the College community as 2020 BRA President.

For International Women’s Day on 8 March, our community celebrated the opening of Woman Power, an exhibition of recent works, uniting female identifying artists who are also Burgmann College alumni. This stunning event was organised by Residential Fellow Lara Nicholls and opened by Dr Sarah Schmidt, Director of Canberra Museum and Gallery during a morning tea co-hosted by Lara and our Women’s Gender and Sexuality Advocate Peri Saunders. Located in the AR Main Room, the exhibition featured works by Janet McKenzie (1974-1978), Jenny Topfer (1983), Thea Katauskas (1993), Kirrily Hammond (1994-1995), Emma Beer (2006-2007), Unity Paterson (2014-2016) and Lucy Waterson, and continued through the month of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. You may enjoy your own virtual tour of the exhibition here.

The launch of the College’s Master Plan at our Foundation Stone Commemoration on 31 March was a significant milestone and a personal highlight for me as Principal, setting out our vision for providing a supportive and transformational Burgmann experience for future generations of ANU students—for the next 50 years and beyond (watch a video of this event here).

While there have been many events and celebrations this year, the recent return of lockdowns and travel restrictions remind us of the challenges and uncertainty the pandemic presents. They also remind us of the strength of our community spirit and the importance of being there for one another.

COVID-19 continues to present an obstacle in particular for over 80 residents currently in lockdown in different states outside of Canberra. We hope to have more news soon about how we can accommodate their safe return to campus.

The ever-evolving situation has also meant we have reassessed timing for our planned Back-to-Burg Weekend in August. We have decided to postpone the celebrations until the weekend of 19-21 November, and look forward to being able to celebrate together with you then.

To our alumni, families, friends and residents currently affected by the COVID-19 restrictions, you are in our thoughts. Please continue to look after yourselves and support each other—it’s the Burgie way.

- Sally Renouf

Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2021 Alumni & Friends Newsletter.

Sally ava womens afl 2 1
Principal Sally Renouf & daughter Ava at the Women's AFL Final
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Ngambri Elder Dr Aunty Matilda House opening Commencement on 4 March
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Then Acting Principal Amelia Zaraftis & artis alumna Thea Katauskas
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): ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC addressing guests at the Foundation Stone Commemoration on 31 March
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