Notes from the VC’s Desk: Direct from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brigid Heywood this week

Published On December 6, 2019 | By Amy | Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
As week 48 of 2019 draws to a close I am in the familiar space of working out what I must complete before year end and whether I am ready for the festive season; the former bothers me a little more than the latter. The same views are clearly held by many colleagues as the week has been coloured by conversations, both internally and externally, where the majority focused on timely and meaningful progress of key tasks before the year winds down.

Instead of being a week full of many different events it has been a week of a few big engagements.

I joined SET colleagues for our second development retreat, designed to provide us with time to review our work with the SET Charter and to develop models for working more effectively on collaborative strategic projects. There are eight strategic projects in play to develop new foundations for improving retention and progression, to advance academic transformation, and build the structures for the work needed to advance the 2020 strategic planning processes, with a focus on the connectivity required to evolve this programme of work and ensure linkages across the whole of the University.

In Tamworth, I was a guest speaker along with my colleague, Prof Alex Zelinsky, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, at the very special event to acknowledge and celebrate the very generous bequest of Betty J Fyffe hosted by our Joint Medical Program (JMP). Her singular endowment has provided for some 50 UNE scholarships to support student candidates in medicine from remote and rural regions. This amazing gift will change their lives, and the lives of many across the generations, as once qualified they will fulfill their commitment to community health.

I was also hosted by Tamworth Regional Council who took me on a tour of the city’s facilities, to review their key infrastructure plans and to discuss where UNE might fit their agenda for growing workforce capacity, stimulating innovation and developing knowledge exchange hubs with industry. The goal is to support the city’s wider ambitions for cultural, social and economic development.

Our Tamworth Study Centre is already a valuable asset in our education offering for this region and, when coupled with capabilities of the JMP facility and the Smart Region Incubator (SRI), provides an important capacity building element in the emerging innovation ecosystem. The contributions we make to key events through outreach (e.g. music festival, careers advice, school outreach and business start-ups) extend the provision we already make through the Medical School, our health programmes and other related activities.

In Canberra, I attended the final ANSTO Board meeting of the year. This time my visit to Canberra also provided a useful opportunity to discuss aspects of corporate governance and the intent of the direction provided in several guiding instruments (e.g. The Hayne Review and the PGPA Act) which have bearing on our own corporate governance practices.

My week closed with a visit to Yarm Gwanga for story time before addressing staff and community guests at the final UNE in Conversation ‘Town with Gown‘ and End of Year Celebration. UNE has much to celebrate  this year with major successes in both national and international research funding programs, further stellar recognition for the quality of our student experience, and several independent prizes for both the work of the institution and for individuals who have exemplared excellence in various fields of endeavour. With the final graduation ceremonies of the year to be hosted next week we will have an opportunity to celebrate the successes of our students as they step forward with great pride into the next phase of their lives armed with valuable qualifications. 


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO


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