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Speech by the Governor at the Installation of the Hon John Brumby AO as the Chancellor of La Trobe University



First, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we are gathering and pay my respects to their Elders past and present and to Elders here with us this morning.

Tony and I are delighted to join you for this special occasion.

I am here today in my role as the ‘visitor’ to the University.

The role of the ‘visitor’ is a very old one, and although its origins are somewhat obscure in modern times, it is a happy aspect of the role that I am invited to preside over this ceremony to install The Honourable John Brumby AO as the eighth Chancellor of La Trobe University.

With or without the title of visitor, the Governor overlaps a great deal with the excellent universities in our State.

Our universities nurture the expertise, interests and ideas of our young people. They instil in them innovative thinking in all their pursuits. They lay the groundwork for the new and, in many instances, as yet unknown careers before them.

At the same time, they push the bounds of research. And, importantly, they are often the bridges to our wider world.

I can assure you that it is not just the bias of the Governor of Victoria, if I say that our universities give us much reason to be proud.

We are known as the ‘Knowledge State’. And we are blessed with universities that are not only dedicated to the development and wellbeing of our next generation, but are committed too, to the future economic and intellectual prosperity of our State, and our connection to the wider global community.

La Trobe University, at just over 50 years of age, (a wonderful time of life - at least from recollection), makes a mature and significant contribution in all those respects.

Already a significant contributor to employment and the economy in Melbourne’s north, the University’s ambitious 10 year plan will see a very substantial campus redevelopment, as it pursues its vision to be a ‘University City of the Future’.

I have recently seen an exciting part of that vision realised, in opening the La Trobe University Sports Park Pavilion just a fortnight ago.

It was immediately apparent, as just one example, of how connected the University is to its local community. In this case, through the sharing of its state of the art facilities with grassroots and women’s sporting organisations, in addition to fostering ground-breaking research and sports technology that is vital to the prosperity of the broader sporting community and economy.

It is only one of the areas in which La Trobe University excels. It hosts a world-class Agri-Bio facility, is a leader in health studies and is renowned in the area of international studies too. That list is illustrative only. They are just some of the areas that see the University climbing various national and international university ranking tables.

Importantly, La Trobe University is also very much a part of Victoria’s regional communities, here in Bendigo, and in Mildura, Shepparton and Albury-Wodonga.

It not only provides good access to study, it also advocates the importance of regional higher education, and supports research into the needs of regional communities.

Of course, the University’s footprint is so much larger than just our State and nation.

La Trobe is an internationally oriented institution.

It comprises a large cohort of international students who add a valuable diversity of culture and outlook. Local students are also well supported to experience parts of their education in other countries. And the University has a strong focus on its international collaborations, co-publications and co-supervision of graduate researchers.

All of these factors make the Honourable John Brumby AO the ideal eighth Chancellor as La Trobe University embarks upon its ambitious strategic plans.

As is well known, his commitment to regional education and his relationship with the University goes back some three decades when, as the Federal Member for Bendigo, he was instrumental in the establishment of La Trobe’s Bendigo campus.

As a former State Treasurer and Premier, the Chancellor has proven leadership credentials.

Since leaving politics, he has served as a director and chairman of a range of local and international boards that have welcomed his business acumen. And he has demonstrated his commitment to community through leadership positions in various not for profit and research organisations.

In 2017, the Chancellor was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.

The citation recognised the breadth of his ‘distinguished service’ to the Parliament of Victoria, to economic management and medical biotechnology innovation, improved rural and regional infrastructure, and to the community.

Such an outstanding and varied body of work will serve this University well as it sets about fulfilling its vision to ‘address the major issues of our time through being connected, inclusive and excellent’.

So, let me congratulate both the Chancellor and La Trobe University on this appointment. And say that it will be an honour for me shortly to install The Honourable John Brumby AO as the eighth Chancellor of La Trobe University.