Melbourne University’s Professional Education Showcase: A Gathering for Fellow Alumni

On the second floor of the Old Quad just in front of the campus’ student union canteen, a crowd could be seen slowly making their way to the second floor. On the cold evening of 12 September 2019 at 6:00 P.M., people slowly signed themselves in or simply signed up on the spot to come and participate in the alumni gathering event. Rows and rows of nametags were beautifully arranged on the table as one first entered the creaking wooden floor of the Old Quad. The evening also served a lineup of alcohol drinks accompanied by a selection of bite-sized snacks ranging from smoked skewered chicken to fried spring rolls. 

The session began with a warm-up and catch-up session among fellow alumni. Shaking hands and sipping wine, fellow alumni chat and recalled each of their fond memory when they were studying in the university. Some of them even graduated in 1976, showing the enduring legacy of the alumni network and solidarity of graduates. Before long, the evening came alive with the crowd going about their own time and memory of the past – and occasionally, a photographer asked for a snapshot of two of the ongoing conversation to immortalize the occasion. 

That was, however, not all there is for the evening. Soon, guests were told to make their way into the adjacent room and find their seat. Right in front of the seats are a small stage with a podium and two screens at the stage side. Five chairs were arranged side by side each other and before long, the session was underway. Led by Ann Fazakerley, Director of Advancement for HASS in Melbourne University, the talk session presented three members of the campus faculty to share their thoughts and opinions on the professionalism involved in education, especially when it comes to the way of Melbourne University. 

After a warm welcome and greeting by Professor Paul Koffman, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics, the session was followed by an upbeat and almost all-too-familiar welcome by Professor Simon Bell, Head of School at Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education (MSPACE). Sharing his thoughts on the professionalism involved in nurturing young minds, Professor Simon Bell divulged deeper into the learning and involvement of lecturers and tutors in helping the learning process of their students. He noted the importance of being actively involved in each step of the learning curve and the responsibility of each tutor and lecturer to facilitate the understanding of the teaching material to the individual student. 

Upon concluding his statement, the baton was passed to Ms. Rinske Ginsberg to continue with the talk. A drama class lecturer for Victorian College of the Arts, she opened her speech with a deep breath before bursting into an explosive skit to showcase the fluidity of body languages in everyone. She explained how body language plays an equally important role in determining the receptiveness and understanding of students during a lecture and it should be used to facilitate learning and gauge the quality of lecture conducted by each lecturer.

The final talk was given by Thomas Maak, Director of Centre for Workplace Leadership. He delved deeper into good and bad leadership, focusing on the allure of seemingly bad leaders in the eyes of the mass and the rise of hardliners in today’s political climate. It was an intriguing session where the audiences were asked to always question whom to believe and to always filter given information, even one which sounds like it is a definite fact. 

As the session concluded and the audiences made their way out, it was heartwarming to see the solidarity and willingness of fellow alumni all in one place. It was an informative and fruitful session but more than that it was also a warming and memorable one.

Text and photo: Edward Tanoto