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

Published On January 24, 2020 | By Amy | Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
Given we are only three weeks into the new year with many staff still on annual leave it is amazing how busy we already are! With Trimester 3 just finishing and registration still in play for the 2020 academic year, it has been an interesting week with different types of interactions enabled by students and staff.

I have met a number of doctoral candidates preparing for the Annual Doctoral Conference – an inspiring fiesta of research across the UNE canvas. I would love to bottle their passion and enthusiasm – Eau de Excellence! I also met some of our amazing music students, staff and alumni from the music programme, all of whom performed at various events during the Tamworth Country Music Festival and supported a number of related UNE sponsored events; simply put – fantastic!

A few of our enterprising Indigenous PhD candidates are working on a new initiative to build UNE Anaiwan Language capabilities and together with HASSE are developing a community inspired partnership framework. Some of our returning undergraduates took time out to have a ‘virtual coffee’ (you imagine the coffee and donate the cost thereof to the bush fire/drought recovery funds) and shared their concerns about studying during this difficult time.

We have seen a decline in our regional student registrations over the past few months as the burden of the natural disasters, which have overwhelmed Australia, falls upon the shoulders of individuals who need to divert energy to recovery operations. We have worked hard across a number of frontiers to design academic, financial (including scholarships) and enhanced pastoral support to assist affected students, and work with them to enable an appropriate format to achieve a work/study/life balance which best suits their emerging needs at such a challenging time.

At this time of crisis and recovery, UNE has also reported the exceptional contributions this institution has made as a regional university, both in correspondence with Federal and State Ministers, (all of whom are seeking to better understand the support provided by the Australian Education Sector and what might be offered going forward), as well as offering opinion pieces to ensure that UNE is engaged fully in this space.

From reach out to reach in was the base tempo of my week. Enterprise bargaining has concluded and all the teams involved are to be congratulated for the work done in reaching an agreement in-principle. UNE has made an upfront payment to recognise the time taken to secure outcomes suitable for all staff and drafting all of the final agreements is almost complete in preparation for the vote. I am conscious there is a lot of work still to be done to implement these agreements, but I share the excitement communicated to me by our staff that we are now ready to advance the discussions about new models of teaching, new ways of working and new academic design options for UNE.

Budgets were also front of mind this week; at the moment, end of year financial reporting is in play with significant ongoing work being driven by FPAS and the Acting CFO and COO. I have also been heavily involved in interviewing candidates for the new CFO role and the processes supporting the appointment of a new PVC Indigenous and a new Director for People and Culture.

On the side, I have been working with the Office of Strategy Management on the construction of our institutional dialogues this year as we progress with planning for the development of a new Strategic Plan, as well as working with the Secretariat to develop the integrated Council work themes for 2020 and with my office to work out how to carve out 43 additional days to accommodate my draft commitments!

On the domestic front – first thank you for all the chickpea recipe suggestions. Concern over the rapid weed growth has been overtaken by the process of nurturing our new feline family member; after the sad loss of Dusta, it has been a challenge to make decisions about a new cat. As always, the decision was taken for us when we were advised of a homeless 12 year old male – he has been fostered with loving care but needed a more suitable permanent home. Domino is now part of our lives and we his.

Enjoy the weekend, celebrate Australia Day and look out for friends, colleagues and family.


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO


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