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

Published On September 26, 2020 | By Alana | General News, Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
A week of interesting challenges.

For many, the sadness of losing one of the giants – Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 

I was fortunate to hear her present in the US Supreme Court as well as attend some of her community presentations when I lived in Washington DC. It is no little thing to say that a person has an impact on your journey in life. I would add my small voice to the choir who would recognise her singular contributions across so many critical frontiers and express my gratitude for the work she did to create a meaningful, indeed powerful dialogue around gender equity.

I am sure it will come as no surprise to know that the rest of the week was devoted to the development of the Time for Change documents – a complex nest of different narratives and accompanying tables. Their production and publication was the result of an amazing team effort across the University. I can only offer my heartfelt thanks for all who provided support – including those who forfeited their personal supplies of Malteser’s in the dark hours of the night.

I would reflect that I found the process of appending my signature to the documents which confirmed the disestablishment of over 100 roles and the formal approval of voluntary redundancies very challenging in many personal ways. Equally, I would note that others recognised it for the momentous task it was, and have offered and voiced their generous personal support across a number of days in very different ways. You know who you are – THANK YOU.

The task is now laid out before us all, with the triggering of a formal consultation process around the proposed new organisational structure and mode of operation. It seems so trite to say that this is one of those signature moments for UNE, but it is. I am pleased that we have been able to move to the consultation phase and that an open dialogue can now progress. 

For more information, please refer to the Time for Change website
The other point of learning for me this week was the various opinions about what is respectful communication. It appears that Harry’s good lady wife has caused some strife by expressing her views on the current President of the United States in advance of the elections. In the land of ‘fake news’ it is perhaps not quite so surprising that freedom of speech is less welcome than we might hope. Then again it appears that the respectful sharing of views and the proper process of dialogue is now second order to the excitement of spreading rumour, innuendo and anecdote. Who needs facts (that can be reviewed, checked and if required re-stated, re-calibrated etc.!) when the plasticity of non-evidence based inference serves better purpose. One might watch the goings on in the US with some horror and possibly some amusement – when similar behaviours emerge in our own community it gives cause to pause.

The Council gathered in ‘Zoomville’ again at the end of the week and reviewed the work being done to collate and define our ‘places’ and how we might better use them going forward. UNE is a bit of an iceberg – there is a lot going on a cross a wide regional geography but often not fully visible. In order to provide support to our students we operate from a number of locations and in each place add real value to our students and the community. This is where our regional identity and purpose becomes visible and impactful. 

I will admit to be really, really tired at the end of this week and with a slightly croaky voice (yes I know, some would calling that a blessing!). Normally, I would be pondering a walk in some magical New England wilderness, a social coffee with possibly a Portuguese tart, hanging out with friends, neighbours (at a safe and respectable distance of course) and the cat, and attacking my vegetable garden. The equinoctial gales are a blowing and the temperature is dropping. So, I will own to planning at least one day under the duvet, binge watching Killing Eve (series 3), if for no other reason than one episode apparently has the catchy title “Meetings must have biscuits”… I must also start my Christmas shopping given the pressures of the season are looming for those of us who have to rely on Australia Post and international delivery routes, and not just a sled and reindeer.  I have also fallen in music love with Elliot Galvin after someone recommended his work; I gather my offerings last week were the prompt. I worry there is a deeper meaning here (aka “my music choices are rubbish”) but who would be so cruel…

Hey ho – enjoy your weekend inside or out. Stay safe and stay well.

Sincerely,

Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO

UNE

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