Stellar start to 2021

The College has had a spectacular start to the new academic year – with over 30 more students than last semester, a hugely positive Welcome Week, and great momentum from the strong academic, sporting and other student achievements last year.

The strong enrolments – both of returning and of new students – have meant that Hawker Annex, which had not been used since 2018, has been refurbished and reopened, and is now happily full.

Our newly-expanded carpark is also full. The College remains extremely grateful to Honorary Fellow Ian Wall AM and Pamela Wall OAM for their extraordinarily generous donation to enable the significant expansion of the College’s multi-storey carpark. This has enabled a clear majority of students to park securely in College for the first time.

To help make new and returning students welcome, our impressive team of student leaders and College staff worked together to develop a programme of activities for Welcome Week and for the whole year.

Welcome events began on 18 February with our annual Admission Ceremony for new students, attended by many parents. This included a Welcome to Country by Uncle Rod O’Brien, Kaurna Elder, and a Smoking Ceremony by Uncle Micky O’Brien, senior Kaurna man.

New students and parents were warmly welcomed by the Head of College, Professor Don Markwell, and the President of the College Club, Ms Sophie Ludbrook. A link to the Head of College’s speech of welcome can be found here.

Each new student also signed the College Roll of Members – the same book that new members of the College have signed since 1925.

Over the course of Welcome Week, students took part in College training, university orientation, and diverse social activities, many on the College Club Committee’s theme for the week of Greek gods. These activities have aimed to make new students welcome and ready for College and university, and to welcome returning students back to College with renewed energy and vigour.

Amongst much else, new students were introduced to the academic and wellbeing support which the College offers. We are delighted that this semester this includes support for students on career development from graduate careers expert (and former College Club President), Jeff Duncan (St Mark’s 2005-08), who has come into residence for the semester.

A very enjoyable Welcome Week concluded with a beautiful Commencement Service in St Peter’s Cathedral and a delightful Commencement Dinner on the tennis courts, marking the start of the 2021 academic year – and with a relaxed day of tennis with Old Collegians.

During the Commencement Service, which included readings and musical performances by students, the Chaplain (the Revd Grant Moore) spoke on the life-long pursuit of wisdom, and the Head of College (Professor Don Markwell) spoke on the importance of the College’s values, and of gratitude. A link to the Head of College’s address can be found here. (We regret that, because of COVID restrictions, we were not able to invite guests to the Commencement Service this year.)

Very moving expressions of gratitude have come in the form of letters of thanks which students are writing to the donors of their scholarships. Over 100 students in 2021 have been able to come into residence or stay in residence at St Mark’s owing to scholarships, prizes, bursaries and other forms of financial assistance. Many of these students have already written thank-you letters to donors, and more of these letters will reach donors in coming weeks.

It is clear from these thank-you letters that such scholarships transform the lives of students. We sincerely thank all donors for helping to create such life-changing opportunities.

With Welcome Week concluded, university classes have now started, and the College’s tutorial programme is about to commence. Inter-collegiate sport begins on Sunday with tennis, followed soon after with swimming. The College Club’s Annual General Meeting has been held, and formal hall has resumed. All the signs point to a great year ahead.

Congratulations to all students and staff on a stellar start to 2021!

This exciting start to the year builds on exceptional student successes in 2020, when outstanding academic results included over half our marks being High Distinctions or Distinctions, the College won the Douglas-Irving Cup (also known as the High Table Cup) for inter-collegiate sport, and our students showed impressive commitment to community service through the Charitable Foundation and in other ways.

An overview of 2020 can be found here. It is a superb foundation on which to build for the year ahead.

Photography: Kaidy Morgan @kd_m_p