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The wheels of life keep turning despite the best efforts of humans, climate and viruses to change the speed of rotation of the planet on its axis.  As the year pulls to a close the number of meetings continue to ramp up as we all focus on completing consultations, projects and governance cycles.

With Parliament still sitting at both State and Federal Governments, there is much to be done to finish off the guidance and principles which will see the new Higher Education Reforms come into play. The outcomes of these discussions so far have been very much about driving the UNE agenda as a leading regional education institution. Increased funding for growth in places, recognition of WIL, entrepreneurship and STEM skilled graduates and the future focus on research infrastructure have been part of the developing discussion and consultations. This all aligns well with the foci that support ‘Future Fit’; UNE’s new strategic plan which will be launched in February 2021. We are very well placed to take opportunity from all of these new initiatives.

‘Thank You’ Morning Tea

Reminder: the last of these events will be 11am on Friday 4 December in the Ingrid Moses Courtyard.

Please RSVP for catering and COVID-safe planning.

The formal opening of the phase 1 installation of the UNE Solar Farm was cause for celebration this week.  A great success as a project (within budget, on time to delivery and tangible outcomes) and as part of our commitment to environmental sustainability. The 8700 solar panels are an impressive site in their own right – add in utility cost savings approaching $1M per annum, 3000 native trees planted and a significant contribution to carbon offset metrics – we can be assured of success.

For me, another significant event this week was to support the presentation of the NEViHN to the community of Inverell as part of our contribution to regional and rural health care and education in NSW. With a virtual and physical audience, drawn from across NSW including our JMP partners from University of Newcastle, Minister Coulton and Inverell health community partners, we focused on a learning conversation about the development of rural placement options for medical students and the wider healthcare opportunities.

The rich tapestry of my week was further coloured by discussion with Parramatta City Council about their new tertiary educational alliance concept, the dialogue about our options for embedding the SRI into the Armidale CBD with other business partners and progress with our discussions around the future of the UNE Heritage and Archives Centre. A visit to NERAM to explore the ‘Summer School’ exhibition which we are co-sponsoring was another very pleasant and rewarding experience.

Coffee in the courtyard with staff has proved to be a successful event; UNE staff coming together under a collegial banner to share ‘survival’ stories, reflect on a year well done, and celebrate warmly and sincerely the contributions of those staff who are moving on. 

My days in Sydney this week were enlivened by the manic effort being expended to build the 2021 Christmas installations, synthetic floral trees decorated with seasonally appropriate animal motifs frolicking in a snowy wonderland; if nothing else, an interesting homage to recycled plastic. The surrounding garden planters of summer herbs was both fragrant and calming (I hope that was the intention – a homeopathic salve for shopping anxiety perhaps). My take home reflection was to note a small measure of seasonal schizophrenia as I adsorbed the clash of the winter fest and summer blooms.

My weekend break will in part be consumed with packing and planning for the move back to Trevenna in December; this will be our 50th house move. An exploratory visit is planned this weekend with the family felines to start the process of acclimation and adoption. In our current home from home, the key activity this week has been chasing and live capture of jumbo cicadas which are then presented with some glee as gifts at some painful hour of the night. Of the millions expected to emerge this year 999,999 are in our garden.  I am moved to ponder what bigger and better prey might result from a prowl around the Trevenna gardens.

Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO