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

Published On December 14, 2020 | By Alana | General News, Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
(Very) long week, short notes.

Academic Board – Monday. A good discussion about academic quality assurance and the need to develop a more holistic academic risk profile for UNE. Ditto retention and progression discussion centred on the benchmarks, net gain lag versus lead; Academic Board definitely going for lead. Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech – the rich finale to a great piece of work. Very proud of our student representatives and the engagement that have brought to UNE this week. Respectfully farewelled the current Chair who has done service above and beyond. 

UNE as community facilitator – Tuesday. Generous and very engaged discussions with community champions of various identities about how, and by what means, UNE can be a better community citizen. Interesting cusping around the responsibilities UNE carries as a national tertiary education provider and the expectations of local groups around matters of resourcing, ethics and engagement. Clearly, and quite rightly, this is a dialogue that must develop so that UNE and other regional Universities are better recognised at a regional, state and national level for what we contribute and how we are a singular part of something bigger (more aspirational perhaps) at a local level. 

Innovation through education – Wednesday. Busy with meetings and discourse about the New England Virtual Hospital and its significance to remote, rural and regional (RRR) health care education. Ex UNE alumnus, the Honourable Chris Bowen (Shadow Minister for Health) gifted time for the conversation and the National Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Ruth Stewart, also engaged with our work to promote a new model of regional healthcare education designed specifically to address the deficit in education, training provision and by extension health equity and wellbeing in the RRR domains of Australia.

Special Council meeting, Audit and Risk, Finance and Infrastructure and Remuneration subcommittees fitted in around an already busy agenda – good debate and progress with some key discussion around strategic investment for 2021.

Con-grad-ulations to UNE’s 2020 graduates!
Please take a look at the virtual Graduation Wall
UNE as the partner of choice – Thursday. The day dawned bright and New England beautiful. I was fortunate to join our guest industry leaders, the NSW Department of  Primary Industry, Meat and Livestock Australia, AGBU and ABRI members, in celebrating the announcement  $7.3M in funding to develop the innovative Breedplan programme to the next level as a part of our contribution to the 2030 Ag strategy. Adam Marshall, the State Minister for Agriculture, was an informed and willing champion for the programme, the event and the partnerships which build on now forty years of proven science driving value into primary production. UNE-raised livestock easily stole the show.
The equally beautiful and inspiring young people from YARM dropped by to gift a copy of their 2020 Christmas Calendar and share the story of how they created it; it is just wonderful. Copies can be purchased from The Shop on our Armidale campus (don’t miss out!).

Also fitted in meetings to review progress with Sydney, Tamworth and Taree projects – slow, slow, quick, quick, slow; moved house – family and felines now back in Trevenna; chatted with a couple of Federal Ministers about funding, and discussed progress with the Academic Workload Model which is almost ready to go to consultation – watch this space…

And so to Friday when I was reminded yet again that the year is drawing to a close and that almost everybody on the planet is signing off on projects and tidying up their to-be-done list. Bid fond farewell to Emma Model who is leaving us for exciting new challenges, and signed an enormous pile of papers for Federal funding, to release HEPP allocations, ensure fixed term contract renewals and course approvals. If I had the time, I would worry about the possibility of running out of ink and paper before the end of the year.

Harvesting artichokes from my vegetable patch this weekend, making seasonal ‘baked goods’ and unpacking. 


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO


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