Convocation - looking towards 2030
Dr Doug McGhie, Warden of Convocation
Setting our sights on the decade to come is an exciting time involving all associated with The University of Western Australia’s Strategic Vision 2030. It positions UWA well, and the University’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan gives immediate action to this exciting future.
Important to any planning is the fact that under the University of Western Australia Act 1911, UWA consists of a Senate, Convocation, staff and students. Under the Act, Convocation comprises largely of UWA graduates and its statutory functions relating to representation, governance, engagement, support and promotion of the University and its members. To succeed, Convocation must have a positive relationship with and within the University. This challenge sits with Convocation’s Council and everyone the Council works and interacts with.
The 2030 planning process has focused on the internal workings of the University, especially on its commitment to prepare students to be globally relevant and responsible leaders, along with other foci on research, equity, the environment and the value of Indigenous contribution. Amongst the stated values are collaboration, supporting excellence, integrity, innovation and equity. The foci are then education, research, and global partnerships and engagement, the latter targeting alumni across the globe to encourage enthusiastic connection to the University, to each other and to the current students, something Convocation already actively engages in and looks forward to continuing. We see an opportunity for a well-positioned, relevant, and well-understood Convocation, in which we can engage more widely to the mutual benefit of the University and our members.
As with many other areas within the University, it is now our role to take this high-level vision and strategy and, through a collaborative process, shape Convocation’s own strategy and plan to fit UWA 2030.
At the 2017 Autumn Ordinary Meeting of Convocation, the guest speaker was The Hon Robert French AC, now our Chancellor, and very well placed to speak on such issues. Mr French recognised the recent changes in the University Act, and the impact on Convocation’s governing statutes, giving us a call to arms that is still timely today with the release of UWA 2030 and the 2020–2025 Strategic Plan.
The Chancellor believes it is up to the alumni to ensure that, through activities relevant to the University’s mission, Convocation does not “fall into the category of a vestigial organ, which can be removed without great harm to the body of which it is a part!” He promoted the role of Convocation in public advocacy as being of importance to the University and to the Western Australian and Australian communities.
Recently the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dawn Freshwater, asked Convocation: “What can you do for us?” The response lies in our own strategic plan, where, with active connection and communication with our members and the wide celebration of their achievements, we can ensure the above communities well and truly appreciate the importance of the University.
What the University and its graduates have done in the past, and are doing right now, in education, research, industry and the community is important. The very best advocates are the graduates and one of the best personal connections with them can be through an effective Convocation and its Council. To maximise that effectiveness, we need do no more than adopt the fourth value from 2030 and have all parts of the University collaborate to share our collective intelligence to achieve more.