Giles Pickford Says Thank You to ATEM

The Association for
Tertiary Education Management

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ATEM is something that has always intrigued and enchanted me.  I think is because it is involved in the creation of the Australian civilisation, a project which will never end.

The role of Government is to wield power and if this is done well it brings justice and fairness to the people and defends them from their enemies.  The role of Industry and Commerce is to produce goods and services and create wealth which benefits everyone.  The role of Tertiary Education is to create a civilisation and maintain it into the future.  The less interference it gets from Government and Industry, the more it will succeed (I wish there was a metric for interference, but it is just about the only thing that is not measured).

We manufacture the future because we shape the young minds of the world, and challenge the older minds continuously.

Being on the cusp of retirement it gave me cause to stop and think.  I eventually found what best expressed my situation in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem on the death of Arthur.  Here is Arthur Pendragon, the first King of the English, speaking from his death bed:

“The old order changeth, yielding place to the new.
And God fulfils himself in many ways
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world”

I have been involved in sustaining ATEM for a long time and that time had to run out.  Arthur was right.  There are “many ways” to choose from:  and the young must have the space in which they can freely do the choosing.

The role of the older generations, and by that I mean the over 70s, is to give unconditional loving guidance when it is asked for, and not when it isn’t.

I am fortunate to be a member of two organisations that do that.  The ATEM Emeritus Chapter (The Ghosts) are there when we are needed by ATEM.  We also raise funds for the ATEM Foundation by indulging in a bit of measured carousing at an annual lunch.  The price of the lunch is set in a way which encourages the Ghosts to be seen as an elite.

The second one is very similar in nature.  It is the ANU Emeritus Faculty which consists of 174 retired members of staff. .  This Faculty has the highest death rate and the lowest rate of resignation in the ANU.  It has more members that the Faculty of Law and more money in the bank than the Faculty of Arts.  We do not ask for money from the ANU, but they do provide us with a room for which we are forever grateful.

So I conclude by thanking Stephen Weller, the ATEM Council and the ATEM Secretariat, for honouring me with the President’s Award.  It is a great privilege to be recognised in this way.  Thank you also to all of ATEM for what you are doing to help create a civilisation.

Giles Pickford
Convenor of Ghosts
17 August 2011

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