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

Published On December 20, 2019 | By Amy | Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
After the hustle and bustle of graduation, the Armidale campus fell quiet this week – those staff remaining were very much focused on completing critical year end tasks.

Much of my week was dominated by teleconferences with key University partners and advisory groups, as well as interactions through developing conversations around our evolving campus plans. We must relocate our current Sydney operations following a notice that our facilities will be enveloped by the light rail extension plans through Parramatta. As our Tamworth offerings expand to support the city growth plans, we are seeking to create a model of engagement with major employment sectors to align with the precinct plans they are promoting. It is exciting to see our New England Virtual Health Network emerge as a key part of this conversation. Another key element will be the expanding envelope of the Smart Region Incubator in the region and the linkages being made with Moree and Taree. These blueprint discussions are also significant in terms of their impact on master planning across our Armidale campus, decisions about possibly locating some departments in the town centre and the forward development of our digital campus.

The final SET meeting of the year focused on advancing our Strategic Taskforce activities as well as considering how best to progress the work needed to implement the new Enterprise Agreements for Professional and Academic Staff if they are supported once put to vote. After a long period of negotiation, it is very pleasing to see proposals being offered for final approval. I know from speaking with colleagues across the campus and with union members that all are committed to the constructive resolution of bargaining so that we can move forward.

Setting blueprints aside, I spent time this week with a number of different student groups representing different elements of our Aboriginal community on campus. One of our Aboriginal students, Callum Clayton-Dixon, has just published a book Surviving New England which seeks to reset the narrative of our region and give voice to the experiences of the Aboriginals who resisted colonial occupation. These conversations also included discussion around the Anaiwan Language Revival Program and how UNE might extend its involvement. Following a very generous gift from UNE alumnus Max Schroder, I also engaged with some of our Aboriginal mentors who have been supported through his innovative scholarship programme. It is inspiring to see the work done across UNE to support, develop and engage in the capture and sharing of Indigenous knowledge and through our ongoing connections with the wider community. This coupled with the growing number of Aboriginal students who are achieving significant academic success with support from Oorala and the Faculties is something UNE can take pride in. With the planned appointment of a new Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous in progress, we can anticipate further developments.

Another rich cultural experience was created by the staff, students and community representatives who collaborated to present the Wayang Kulit Shadow Puppet Show and Gamelan Concert in presenting a modern take on “The Forest of Marta”. They celebrated their new found skills and raised money to support those affected by the bush fires. It was a very enjoyable experience!

The end of the week finds me hunting for cold weather clothing as I prepare for a visit to the UK and Europe to be with family before heading to India for a holiday. I know I have eaten more than my fair share of mince pies already, and festive cheer abounds as colleagues and friends take time out to connect and share reflections and memories. Chocolate consumption levels remain high despite the heat (and as ever I ponder the question, why are Maltesers so addictive?). I will close out the year giving thanks again for my good health and a great life. I am deeply appreciative of the support that the UNE community has provided in welcoming me to the University and helping me find my feet. I am very excited about 2020 and what we might do together.
Whatever your choices for the summer break, I offer Seasons Greetings to one and all. And because it is Christmas…….. 
Please click to watch the Senior Executive End of Year Video 

Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO


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