We are always delighted to welcome international visitors to our campus, but the recent visit of United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was a particularly special occasion.
She is the second US Secretary of State to visit our campus – the last was in 2008 when Dr Condoleezza Rice came following an invitation from one of our alumni, the then Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith.
Secretary Clinton was here on 13 November for the launch of the UWA-based Perth USAsia Centre, which I believe will quickly become a globally important institution, alongside UWA’s other renowned Institutes and Centres.
The Perth USAsia Centre will be a leading policy think tank on the Australia-Asia-US strategic and economic relationship, a teaching and research centre and a conduit for a deeper understanding of US politics, foreign policy, security, business, history, culture and society.
That Secretary Clinton took time out of her busy and demanding schedule to visit our campus acknowledges that, on the eve of our Centenary, UWA is at the core of the Western Australian economy.
Our University plays a crucial role in driving research and innovation, and developing and sustaining international relationships with research partners around the world, in the US but also in Asia.
Senator Clinton’s visit certainly reinvigorated the friendship between our two nations – and especially the relationship between our State and the US.
Links between our two nations are forged through organisations such as the American Australian Association and the United States Studies Centre, but it is also a liaison strengthened by our own education and research links to US universities. Indeed, one of our University’s favourite sons, distinguished UWA alumnus the Honourable Kim Beazley, is the current Australian Ambassador to the United States.
The centrality of our University in this bond enables us to play a key role in the unfolding Australian-US-Asian relationship and in an alliance that will contribute to regional stability, security and peace.
Our University, and Perth, enjoy a location that gives us a genuinely unique perspective on the eastern rim of the Indian ocean and the western edge of the country.
Our location happens to place us in the time zone – give or take a few hours – of around 60 per cent of the world’s population, and the nations that offer the promise of the greatest economic growth of the 21st century. In recognition of this, we initiated the In the Zone series of conferences – and the 2012 ITZ is underway on campus this week.
Only 100 years ago, our University was preparing to welcome its first students – 184 of them – onto a makeshift campus known as ‘Tin Pan Alley’. That a century later we should be a major institution that attracts visitors of the calibre of Senator Clinton to the launch of a new Centre and the representatives of global corporations to a conference is laudable.
And it has come about because our University has been fortunate to have benefited from 10 decades of foresight and dedication by staff members since its earliest days.
Published in UWA News, 26 November 2012