In this tumultuous year, the 2020 ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Awards celebrated members of the University community who have continued to achieve outstanding results in the face of this year’s challenges, and those who have worked tirelessly to respond to the challenges.
The ceremony for this year’s annual awards was held online for the first time and attended by over 200 people across campus. In his opening remarks, ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt described this year’s difficulties as “the most significant challenge in this University’s history”. But, he added that the dedication and hard work of our community this year was also unlike anything he has ever seen before.
“We have been surrounded by staff committed to doing the work required to help all of us overcome the challenges we faced in whatever form it was needed,” Professor Schmidt said.
“Ultimately, ANU is the university it is because of its people. And these highly dedicated people can be found in all corners of the university working on entirely different missions, all to help us to achieve our collective goal, which is to serve our nation as the national university.”
The MC of the event was Professor Michael Martin from the ANU College of Business & Economics. Watch a video of the ceremony here, and see the full list of recipients here.
Meet the Awardees
Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Service
CASS General Manager, Mr Matt Talbot. Mr Talbot shared the award with Ms Vicki Stanley from Innovation ANU, the Community Wellbeing Team and the Fire and Hail Response Team.
Mr Talbot said the award was unexpected, and that he was humbled to share the award with other recipients who have made great contributions across campus.
“There are too many people to thank individually but I would like to thank CASS leadership and the whole college community for their support and enabling me to channel the energy and passion we have in abundance in CASS into what I do,” he said.
Announcing the award at the ceremony, Chief Operating Officer Mr Paul Duldig described the exceptional contribution Mr Talbot has made to the ANU community over his long career.
“But in 2020 he’s absolutely exceeded the high levels of service, action and leadership for which he’s known, Mr Duldig said.
“Matt led the almost impossible task, which was the Return to Campus Taskforce, and ensured clear communication between the community, the executive, and decision makers. His tireless and unrelenting commitment and dedication to ANU and his colleagues helped bring the community together in what was a very difficult response to the pandemic. And it was a surprisingly complicated task.”
Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research
Dr Carmel O'Shannessy, Senior Lecturer in the ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics (SLLL). Dr O’Shannessy has worked in Indigenous languages and education for over two decades.
Dr O’Shannessy said she felt humbled and privileged to receive this award.
“I want to thank the Warlpiri people who have so generously shared aspects of their languages over many years, helping us to better understand languages across the world,” she said. “And to acknowledge the supportive research environment in SLLL and CASS at ANU.”
Professor Michael Martin announced the award, telling the audience that Dr O’Shannessy has gone well beyond her required activities as a linguist to respond to Warlpiri community aspirations. She has also made her research accessible to the community; especially to Warlpiri educators.
“Carmel’s research on a new Australian mixed language, light Warlpiri, has been reported in many national and international media outlets, which helps people to understand how languages emerge,” Professor Martin said.
He acknowledged Dr O’Shannessy’s contribution to policymaking through the National Indigenous Languages Report, and that she continuously strives to reconciliation through her research, applied research activities, teaching, and service.
Professor Martin added a personal note based on his role as Chair of the ANU Human Research Ethics Committee: “It’s been an absolute delight to work with a researcher like Carmel who places the ethical responsibilities of her research at the absolute highest level and has worked so cooperatively with us.”
Clare Burton Award for Excellence in Equity and Diversity
The Two-Way Project team, led by Dr Kirrily Jordan, Research Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR). The joint awardee was Professor Lyndall Strazdins from the ANU College of Health & Medicine.
Dr Kirrily Jordan (CAEPR, project lead)
Associate Professor Alison Alder (School of Art & Design (SoAD))
Dr Annick Thomassin (CAEPR)
Adele Cameron (SoAD)
Denise Angelo (SLLL)
Sanne Carroll (SoAD)
Lucy Irvine (SoAD)
Associate Professor Deirdre Howard-Wagner (CAEPR)
Dr Sean Perera (Graduate Studies Select)
Dr Jordan said that receiving the award acknowledges some of the amazing work happening at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, the ANU School of Art & Design and ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, where many people are working hard to create positive change.
“Just as importantly, it recognises the First Nations women and children we’ve been working with, and the value they bring to the ANU through their participation in our programs,” she said.
“We hope the award brings more people to the exhibition of their artworks on campus – scheduled to be shown in the perfect location at the School of Art & Design’s Project Space gallery in 2021.”
Associate Professor Alison Alder, Head of Printmedia & Drawing at SoAD, said it was a great honour for the Two-Way team to receive the Clare Burton award.
“Clare’s commitment to justice for women is such an inspiration,” Associate Professor Alder said.
“Like Clare we’ve sought to use our positions to improve opportunities for women, bridging our skills across disciplines to build a quiet, woman-centred, art focused project which listens and responds to the community it serves.”
Dr Jordan acknowledged her team’s exceptional community partners who made the Two Way Project possible.
“Ronnie Jordan (Culture on the Move), Amanda Jane Reynolds (Stella Stories), Larry Brandy, and staff at the Alexander Maconochie Centre and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, including invaluable support from Samantha Keaton and David Witham, she said. “The team also thank the Indigenous Languages and Arts Program and CASS Small Grants scheme for their support.”
Announcing their award was Ms Jane O'Dwyer, Vice-President (Engagement and Global Relations), who described the Two-Way project as a groundbreaking initiative designed to build bridges between ANU and Indigenous women in the ACT and surrounds.
“It reduces barriers to inclusion, and promotes equal opportunity for Indigenous women by transforming the way the University operates; reaching out to otherwise hard-to-reach disadvantaged women through arts and cultural programs on and off campus,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Impact and Engagement (Finalist)
Dr Ben Bramble, Lecturer in the ANU School of Philosophy, was a finalist in this category. His book Pandemic Ethics: 8 Big Questions of COVID-19 explores the ethical issues raised by the pandemic, and discusses how we should change society following its conclusion. Dr Bramble made Pandemic Ethics freely available via open access, including its Spanish translation, a move which was praised by his nominator for “prioritised contributing to pressing questions of public interest over standard academic criteria”. His nominator added that the academic presses at Princeton and Oxford had both expressed interest in the book, which has been discussed in high profile international media including The Washington Post and Bloomberg.
Dr Bramble stated that it was wonderful to see philosophy recognised in this way.
“Philosophy has a vital role to play in helping us to respond properly to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“In dangerous times, more than ever, we need philosophy to help guide our policy decisions. I want to thank my colleagues in philosophy here at ANU. It is a hugely enriching place to be.”