Notes on the meeting of the Alumni Steering Committee

Tuesday 21 April 2010 at 5.00 p.m. School Office, Science Rd Cottage (A10)

Present: Mike Thompson (Chair), Robyn Overall (Head of School), Carla Avolio (Science Communicator), Warwick Angus, Roz Hinde, Angela Low, Dieter Hochuli, Anna Schubert (University Alumni Office)

Venue and refreshments arranged by Carla Avolio.

  1. Apologies: Leila Blackman, Chris Gillies, Jacquie Herbert, Jane Crystal, Peter Weston

  2. Alumni function(s) for 2010:
    • This being the first meeting for 2010, Mike Thompson outlined the success of last year’s cocktail party and his subsequent presentation to a meeting of the University’s Alumni Forum.

    • A wide-ranging discussion of possible events to follow last year’s Cocktail Party ensued, with ideas of a similar or different style functions, various venues and different draw-card activities. In the end, we decided that we would more or less repeat last year’s party i.e., a Cocktail Party in the Macleay Foyer and Botany Lawn.

    • We decided that the party should have a Charles Birch theme, to commemorate the life of Charles Birch and his contributions to the School and our past students. We would invite submission of photos of Charles for a Power Point presentation, and we would invite suggestions for a theme name for the event that would capture the Birch theme. [Last year’s theme was “Spring Time is Swarm Time”.]

    • The event would be from 6.00-8.00 pm on a Friday afternoon in late October, the date to be decided after checking the timing of other events.

    • We would celebrate successes in the School in the previous year, including such milestones as Marianne Frommer’s election to the Australian Academy of Sciences.

    • We discussed other possible functions, including a function at Warrah. While we came to no conclusions, we thought that functions at Warrah would probably be best targeted at particular year cohorts, as the venue has a limited capacity to accommodate people.

    • We also decided to place a general invitation in our Newsletters for people who would like to organise a year cohort get together to contact us. The School and the University’s Alumni Office can and will offer support for such gatherings.

  3. Formal Chapter:
    Based on the pro forma for constitution for an alumni chapter, we decided that:
    • it is probably premature to go ahead with constituting a formal alumni chapter at this time.

    • we should have a detailed discussion of the objectives and mission of an alumni chapter and evaluate whether they are achievable (to be discussed at the next meeting).

  4. Postgraduation evaluation of Biological Sciences:
    • We discussed surveying alumni about their views of our courses, teaching performance and perhaps other issues at different intervals after their graduation e.g., 1, 2, 5 and 10 years post-graduation. AS told us that a survey was being developed within the University and we could use that as a template. (AS has forwarded a copy of the University’s draft survey for evaluation and discussion at the next meeting)

  5. Reunions:
    2012 is the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Biological Sciences. We discussed various ways that anniversary could be marked, including:
    • commissioning a history of the School.

    • recording Alfie Meats’ stories of the School.

    • finding and updating the history of Challis Chairs of Biology done previously by AL and Caroline Vandenberg (AL will try to find her previous version).

    • using Charles Birch’s papers in the University’s Archives as part of a history of the School.

    • Creating a list of the most significant scientific discoveries made in the School since its inception and having the alumni rank their significance to come up with a “people’s choice” ranking.

  6. Soundtracks for movies:
    • WA asked about the copyright issues around adding soundtracks to movies of alumni events prior to their posting on the Alumni web site. (AS to find out the rules).

  7. Time of Steering Committee meetings:
    • The timing of Steering Committee meetings was discussed because of a request by LB that they are held on a Monday or Friday to allow her attendance. We decided that 5.00 pm was a good time, and that Mondays are suitable. It was also mentioned that they could be held on Tuesday’s, immediately before the meeting of the Royal Zoological Society, which meets in the Heydon-Laurence Building. That way, we may engage more alumni. It was recognised that there would be no time that would be best for everyone, so it was decided to vary the day of the meeting to allow everyone to be able attend at some time.

  8. Other business:
    • There being no other business, the meeting closed at 6.30 p.m.