Happy holidays to all HCA Members
We began 2021 with the hope that the worst was behind us, the “normal” was close by. As the year progressed, we have all learnt to re-define “normal”. All of our newest graduates – Members and Associate Members – have defined their Harvard experience by online courses rather than living in Cambridge, walking through Harvard Yard, attending lectures in classrooms and socialising with fellow classmates in person. What I have been most impressed with though is that their experience has still been positive (even with the time zone difficulties) and they are keen to be a part of the Harvard community in Australia and continue to extol the virtues of a Harvard education. I am sure I speak for all of us to say “welcome” to our newest members and we look forward to learning from you. The Club is now 600 members strong, with a composition that matches the demographics of all Aussie alumni.
We have continued with Zoom events throughout the year which, although not perfect in all circumstances, does enable us for certain events to truly be the Harvard Club of Australia – allowing all members to have the opportunity to hear great speakers (including our re-imagined Masterclass series) or to be a part of decision-making processes for the Club. We also managed to squeeze in several in-person events around the country. The most popular event was the expansion of Brisbane’s long-running annual Thanksgiving Dinner into three simultaneous dinners held around the country. Well done to the team for hopefully starting a new and exciting national tradition within the club.
In summary this year we organised 30+ events, attended by 1400+ members and guests from throughout Australia and globally. In addition, we promoted over 45 virtual events hosted by other Harvard schools, clubs and interest groups.
In November we held our annual Summit for all Board and Council members – again online. We were again very fortunate to have the assistance of a McKinsey analyst to assist Tom Saar and Justina Blackman in putting together a truly extraordinary fact-based review of 2021. Magnet has enabled us to view our membership from every angle possible. It has provided us with a foundation to build upon the needs of the various groups within our community whether that be driven by age, location, degree or school attended. During 2021, you will have noticed an increasingly varied mix of knowledge sharing and social events, professional development and networking – both online and in-person, at all times of day and at staggered price points. Hopefully something for everyone!
We continued to enhance our connections with Harvard. We increased the Book Prize to 28 high schools across NSW, Qld & WA, we hosted HBS & HKS Info Sessions for 300 interested applicants, and we continued to help students transitioning back to campus life. We organised two masterclasses taught by Harvard profs and attended by over 150 members and past Program for Leaders participants.
We were reminded of the spirit of our Scholarship programs earlier in the year when we joined Sydney University to honour Sir James Wolfensohn KBE AO for all that he has done for Australia, the world – and of course the Harvard community. Thank you to Chris Smith for the hours of research to ensure this event was a fitting tribute. With campus re-opening, we re-commenced a few of our scholarship programs, granting 5 scholarships (2x Menzies, 2x Non-profits, 1x HS Principal) and hope to continue that trend next year.
Next year we celebrate our Diamond Jubilee – 60 years as a Harvard community in Australia. I hope that you will be able to join us for the number of celebratory events being planned.
Thank you to Justina for being the glue that has held us together again this year.
I wish you all a wonderful festive season filled with good cheer and I look forward to working with you in 2022 as we continue to honour the value of a good education and all that comes from that.
Elizabeth Carr AM
President Harvard Club Australia