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

Published On January 13, 2020 | By Amy | Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
Welcome back one and all. I hope that the summer break has provided a time for refresh and renewal as well as the space to catch up with family and friends.

As a new decade kicks off I am sure I join many in reflecting on the last ten years; the successes and failures, the challenges and the opportunities. Despite the usual ups and downs of life, I am fortunate to be able to view both the time passed and the journey in front of me with no little measure of enthusiasm, as well as gratitude for my good fortune. I sincerely hope that the equation balances as favourably for you all.

The last few weeks have been more than a little challenging for Australia – there can be no doubt that communities far and wide have pulled together to support each other in times of travail and disaster. I have been in the UK and Europe with family and friends – all have expressed their genuine concern for our habitat and for the living communities which have been devastated by the combined attack of bush fires and drought. The journey back to Armidale provided a reminder, if one were needed, of the incredible work the army of volunteers and reserve fire fighters are doing, including UNE staff that are part of this national endeavour. The amazing resilience of Australians is gloriously evident and I stand tall with pride for the citizens of my adopted country.

The keys to my office have been held by COO Professor Peter Creamer whilst I have been off site. He and his wider team have been guardians of the physical estate and vigilant in the care of our online community over the holiday period. I offer my thanks to them all.

Artwork: Eurah Medicine Leaves, 2017 by Rod Mcintosh
Needless to say the mail box of a VC does not fall silent – it is a ‘52/365/7/24/60’ job. Across the past couple of weeks, I have been involved in reviewing the compliance status of UNE with respect to our proper and lawful engagement, with over 100 different pieces of legislation as well as many specific regulatory and statutory instruments. I have been involved in conversations at both state and national level across the system about the role of universities in the current national emergency (in addition to the support offered to our staff and affected students, UNE has provided respite accommodation, housed and fed fire fighters and volunteers, provided advice on animal welfare, and contributed expertise to discussions on resource management), and engaged with various groups in matters related to long term drought relief planning. Planning for international engagement across 2020 has progressed as well with likely visits to India, Bhutan and Malaysia, as well as a dialogue about opportunities in South Africa and South America. I also spent some time reviewing innovative degree programmes as models for offerings which UNE might consider developing. Of particular interest were linkages to sports and exercise, and business and facilities management – these options build on our overall capacity and provide interesting connections to our capabilities in Sydney and Tamworth.
Be assured I have also had a break and embraced all the usual festive activities (too much food, not enough exercise, an overdose of carols and an interesting mix of competitive board games!). I have renewed my dormant enthusiasm for complicated 1000 piece jigsaws, finished four jumbo quizzes and read a small pile of books (Tidelands, The Sleep Quilt, Normal People). I also listened to a couple of audible tomes (Sapiens, A Grown up Guide to Dinosaurs) and micro-binged on movies (The Crown, Killing EveParasite, Swimming with Men) because sadly I invested too much time sitting in airports or on planes.

When we left for the UK (endlessly cold, wet and windy) Armidale was hot and brown. We returned last night to lightening, thunder and lots of rain (not enough sadly) and a very green campus (relatively speaking) and are now tucked up in the Trevenna Cottage. Back into the office Monday….

Happy New Year and all the best for the next decade.


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO


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