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My ambitions for this week were high. Sadly, after a challenging conversation with some tarmac and concrete in the middle of Armidale whilst ambling along on my new ebike, the focus of my efforts and engagement with life shifted to a narrower landscape. I am now back to travel on two feet with my left arm carefully protected in a sling whilst my broken bones repair. I am also having to learn how to type with one hand/one finger – very difficult.  Medical advice suggests that malteasers have limited therapeutic value in these circumstances; I disagree.
Boilerhouse (Triptych 1) by Elousie Roberts
Despite restricted mobility, I have managed to maintain a fairly busy schedule with a mix of external and internal appointments. With RUN colleagues I contributed to a Select Committee Hearing on Regional Australia. A UNE Foundation Board Meeting provided updates on our investments, the current market challenges and the immeasurable value to be derived from the funding of education scholarships. The UNE Professoriate joined me for a very helpful discussion about the contribution they might make to emerging discussions around scholarship and research, academic promotions, and the development of the UNE2021+ framework. Another welcome conversation was the sharing of ideas for the nascent New England Graduate School; the energy and engagement from across facilities was very welcome and there is real opportunity here for UNE to shape shift our postgraduate offerings. SET discussions on the progress of the strategic taskforces, UNE project management and corporate record keeping, the business of risk management and compliance featured strongly.
Boilerhouse (Triptych 2) by Elousie Roberts
Our students are heads down in exams and assessments as they stay the course and complete the academic work of this trimester. For me, the most compelling view of their activities is the collegiality of all and their willingness to reach out and offer rich peer support. I am sure all will join with me in wishing our students every success. The fact that we have reopened discussions about possible options for graduation celebrations later this year is another sign of our confidence in the resilience of education and the value of community.

Our strong community spirit was also evident in the generosity of support being provided to the UNE Food Bank initiative and the provision of emergency resources to our international students at a time of great need. One is reminded that a little goes a long way, and there is never enough!

UNE has also been a contributor to discussions about the development of plans for the safe return of international students to Australia – first those needing to complete their studies and then a gradual opening of borders and study opportunities as conditions allow. This is very promising news for all those students who suffered disruption as a result of the necessary constraints upon international travel. Alongside these conversations has been the ongoing work of the teams planning their way through UNE operations recovery, and a model for a safe, staged return to each of our campuses has been another key dimension of the week. It is a complex multidimensional challenge but great progress has been made this week with support from all divisions and units enabling progress. 

Boilerhouse (Triptych 3) by Elousie Roberts
And clearly I am not the only busy person around here. I was excited to hear that some 48 entries from staff, students, alumni and the wider community, including 11 entries from under from people under 18 years old, were submitted to the Creative New England Short Story Competition. This is a great outcome and level of participation – look out Tony Birch! Our judges will be busy reading them over the weekend and we can all look forward to their publication in the near future.

Creative New England has now joined forces with NERAM, and we invite you to get your paintbrushes out and join us for the next exciting competition – see the Website or Facebook for more details.

As I snuggle down under a comforter and nurse my wounded arm, there can be little doubt that the music choice this week must be ‘St Paul and the Broken Bones‘ … if for no other reasons than the beautiful gold brogues! Comfort food of choice – two fresh warm Portuguese tarts, for the calcium, of course! Movie choice – Lovely Bones; and a Broken Arm cocktail to help me relax!


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO