ACU Continues Expansion in Australia & Overseas

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
18 Sep 2015

ACU's overseas study centre in Rome. Photography by Catino Foto, Rome Italy

The Australian Catholic University continues to expand. Last week in a joint collaboration with the Catholic University of America, ACU'S overseas Study Centre in Rome was officially opened. This was followed by yesterday's announcement that ACU had bought a 13-storey office building on the corner of Pacific Highway and Berry Street which will provide permanent space for higher education and research at the North Sydney Campus.

With increasing demand from students and a current student population of more than 25,000 across ACU's campuses in North Sydney, Strathfield, Canberra, Adelaide, Ballarat, Brisbane, Melbourne together with an overseas study centre in Rome, where students as well as academic staff will be able to further their research and studies, the 25-year-old Catholic university continues to grow both in numbers and reputation.

"ACU has achieved remarkable gains in recent years," says ACU Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, Dr Stephen Weller, explaining that the $90 million purchase of the office tower at 33 Berry reflects the university's overall strategic plan for sustainable growth. The purchase will also give the university a chance to cut the cost of leasing space and adds to other purchases ACU has made in the area, including the $57.3 million acquisition of NCR House in 2011.

An exterior view of garden of the ACU's overseas study centre in Rome

Renamed Tenison Woods House in honour of Fr Julian Tenison Woods who with ACU's patron saint, St Mary MacKillop helped found the Sisters of St Joseph, the 22-storey office block at 8-20 Napier Street, North Sydney underwent a major revamp to house the university's School of Law including a Law Library and Moot Court, the School of Allied Health, the School of Business and ACU's School of Global Studies.

Eighteen months later, the work finally completed, the  newly renovated and reconfigured building was blessed by the former Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell at a ceremony attended by the then Chancellor of ACU, General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Vice Chancellor Professor Greg Craven. The Liberal Member for North Sydney, Joe Hockey who was Shadow Treasurer at the time, officially openedl the building, saying that he had been a great beneficiary of Catholic education, as had his family.

ACU expands further with this week's purchase of a 13-storey office block at 33 Berry Street North Sydney

The purchase of the $90 million 13-storey office block through Colliers International will further consolidate ACU's presence at North Sydney as a thriving educational precinct, Vice Chancellor, Dr Weller says adding that the decision to buy the building had been driven by the 53% jump in student numbers at the campus over the past three years.

For the current Chancellor of ACU, John Fahey AC and Vice Chancellor Professor Greg Craven the focus last week was on the opening of the Study Centre in Rome which represented two years of negotiation, planning and collaboration between ACU and Washington DC's Catholic University of America.

The inauguration of the Study Centre, which is situated above the ancient Roman neighbourhood of Trastevere and a five minute drive from the Vatican, was held on Saturday, 5 September when the ACU Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and John Garvey, President of CUA welcomed dignitaries along with staff members from the two universities.

Among the Australian contingent to attend the opening of the Study Centre were Australia's Ambassador to the Holy See, His Excellency John McCarthy; Australia's Ambassador to Italy, His Excellency Mike Rann and US Ambassador to the Holy See, His Excellency Ken Hackett.

Professor Pauline Nugent, ACU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) also attended.

ACU's Moot Court at North Sydney is part of Tenison Woods House formerly known as the NCR office tower

"The Study Centre offers students and scholars a rich life experience and the chance to pursue their studies while immersed in a city steeped in the living history and tradition of the Roman Catholic Church," Professor Craven said at last week's official opening. "In addition to academic programs and research studies the Centre will also host regular public lecturers and become an academic hub for ACU and CUA faculty and graduates."

The Centre includes a 70-bed accomodation wing for post graduate students, apartments for visiting faculty, five classrooms, a studio, library, dining area, fully equipped commercial kitchen and a chapel. The Centre also boasts just under an acre of established gardens and it was here, as part of the inauguration ceremony that Professor Craven and CUA President John Garvey planted an oak tree. The oak tree is common to Australia, America and Europe and its planting symbolised the deep roots  and connection between these three continents as well as the shared roots of the two universities to the Roman Catholic Church.