VC Notes

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

Published On November 1, 2020 | By Alana | General News, Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
It would be odd if I did not mention that for those of us based in New England, life this week has been has been about glorious sunshine, drenching rain, hail and snow as well as thunder and lightning. The sad news of a freak accident on our UNE Armidale campus in the midst of one storm did much to further dampen our spirits, and remind us all of the fragility of life.  I am sure as a community we were all touched by the loss of a UNE alumnus under such tragic circumstances.

I think an indication of how crazy the week has been is also reflected in the fact that I had to actually review my week’s diary when thinking about my notes whereas it is more common for me to recall it all without reference. Sign of a very busy women…

No surprise that much of the week demanded a focus on the Time for Change consultation process, with the deadline for contributions closing this week and much more analysis to be done. Sitting over the top of that work has been effort devoted to the ongoing development of the new 2021 budget architecture and mapping through the implications of the new Job Ready Graduate Reforms as the modelling exposes more information to us. I have also been adsorbed with feeding information into the wider discussions across the sector and ensuring that the various educational and professional opportunities are fairly addressed. 

 
A Zoom supported Universities Australia plenary provided both a shared knowledge environment with peer colleagues (with comfort drawn from knowing we are all struggling with the same issues) and a reminder of just how much is going on given all we are required to respond to, including Modern Slavery, Foreign Interference, Freedom of Speech and the Funding Reforms – just a few of the headline topics.

I visited Tamworth to meet with industry and agency colleagues and review progress with the UNE Tamworth expansion plans. Time there was also invested in exploring possible sites for our proposed new facilities once funding is released at State and Government level. UNE Metro Sydney consumed some hours in my week as we wrestled with possible options around UNE’s future functionality in Western Sydney. The engagement of Parramatta City Council in a wider conversation about university contributions to their growth agenda is inspiring. Further real estate conversations ensued here in Armidale as part of reviewing the opportunity to secure a dedicated space in the CBD for UNE supported innovation-related activities.  

Transitioning from a focus on buildings to technology – mediated conversations with RUN colleagues required another rapid shift of perspective, as issues of access and retention, the Higher Education Provider Standards and the new Industry Linkage Fund were tabled for discussion. A day of Council Committee meetings also consumed diary time – as the year closes we were rightly focused on what has been achieved (a lot!) and what remains to done before year end (many things); long lists for both. 

 
The Chancellor celebrated another birthday this week and after a long day of meetings, those of us here in UNE Armidale enjoyed a piece of his chocolate cake. The number of appended candles is reported as commercial in confidence… 

In the middle of all of this, I joined the audience for the 2020 Frank Archibald Lecture; UNE alumna Professor Michelle Trudgett stood proud and tall and delivered an inspiring lecture to a virtual audience of over 80 attendees. Both Michelle, the Events Team and MC Noni Hawkins (another UNE alumna!) all deserve a loud shout out for their generous contributions.

I have been toing and froing with colleagues in the UK and EU around their experiences around the scale return of their students to campus. UNE residential students are very keen to return and rightly want clarity for 2021. As restrictions ease and we consider new models of distributed working and the framing of attendance criteria across our whole workforce, then the practical insights of others are welcome.

Another small celebration was required Wednesday night when the 2020 Australian Prime Minsters Science Prizes were announced – recognition again for women in science!

Onwards to Sydney next week for various Board meetings and partner engagements. Given I am still standing and enjoying life, I am off to Packsaddle tonight for a cultural boost. I hope that you each have great plans for the weekend and can relax too.

Sincerely,

Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO

UNE

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