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

Published On December 21, 2020 | By Alana | General News, Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
One of those very complex weeks with lots of different things to do rather than a thematic collection of events and meetings; on reflection, it seemed to be a mirror of the season with its many distractions.

Various engagements supporting the ongoing projects related to the Time for Changeprogram still feature, as the process of completing the placement of staff into the new posts that have been created was continued. It is encouraging to hear the voices of so many expressing their appreciation of the opportunities to find new challenges for themselves in the organisation. These processes will continue over the next couple of months as all elements of the new structure are successfully enabled.

Another critical piece of work involving UNE staff from across many departments and corporate partners has been the negotiations for a loan to stabilise our reserves and improve the liquidity ratios of UNE as part of the commitments made in Time for Change. This piece of the jigsaw has been designed carefully to allow UNE to improve its immediate financial position alongside the planning of initiatives which will see us grow revenue and generate the required surpluses in years to come. Late nights with lots of spreadsheets and pivots is the image that you should have in your mind here.

Can you say festive spirit? Check out the School of Health Clinical Team’s fantastic Dancing Christmas Elves video!
Consideration of the development of a new Academic calendar also contributed to the fabric of my week, alongside updates on the Working Group’s progress with the design of the new Academic workload model and consideration of the key academic risks which need our urgent attention and must be given priority support in early 2021. 

I managed to avoid a sufficient number of stormy downpours to travel south and attend the Tamworth University Steering Group meeting – progress with 2021 recruitment into our new courses, the presentation of our plans for the first two Education Hubs to be located in the Sports Dome and AELEC, and the negotiation in play for the remaining capital funding envelope all featured. The growing interest of the local community in the expansion project is a welcome layer of support for this key initiative; their particular engagement with our emerging model of the inverted classroom is a very positive aspect of these discussions. 

Another highlight of the diary this week was meeting with the consultants who will help us develop the economic impact study required to underpin the case for funding a New England STEM precinct. Our proposals for a ‘precinct without walls’ centered in Armidale but specifically designed to serve a regional agenda is gathering support from many quarters. The industry workshops being hosted across Armidale over the last few weeks are also giving a natural energy to this flagship proposal. Equally significant have been discussions around the best way to develop the UNE Metro options in Sydney, as the negotiations about a replacement facility reach a critical stage. The emergence of new plans around ‘professional’ offerings signals the great work the Sydney team are doing to support the goals at the heart of our new Future Fit strategy.

Numerous cups of ‘networking coffee’ featured in my weekly fare as I met with representatives from several national agencies looking at the planned development in the region; renewable energy, water resilience and healthcare workforce developments were unsurprisingly top of the list. 

This weeks’s UNE in Conversation presentation can be viewed online here
The end of year UNE in Conversation webinar celebrated the achievements of staff, students and alumni across a long and challenging period, which was very much the centre of the week for me. It was difficult to select the highlights with a plethora of important milestones and accomplishments requiring acknowledgement – the additional contributions of our own community were a welcome and very positive affirmation of the progress that UNE made this year in so many different ways.

I have not yet planned the weekend, and there are so many things to be done. I suspect that wrapping paper and cellotape will feature somewhere along with a little more unpacking; we are still living with a collection of boxes. The felines are adapting to their new home, although more work to be done around the independent use of the cat flap. At the moment they prefer to randomly select one of the many doors which requires on demand human intervention. My potatoes have come good so I will be rummaging in the veggie patch to rescue them before the rain and damp weather wreak havoc on my starchy tubers. And I notice that I have missed some of the days in my Advent calendar so must catch up (!) – it will be no surprise to know I have the Malteaser inspired version, sad but true. Luckily, I have friends and family who love me… 


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO


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