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Much to celebrate this week: rain glorious rain, the arrival of new and returning students on the Armidale campus and the next stage in reopening our campuses and study centres. Evidence indeed of complex systems settling and adapting after major perturbations.  
Our obvious joy as an academic community for the return of so many students to Armidale (now green and refreshed after the burdens of drought and bushfires) has raised comment from the students themselves – our enthusiasm overtaking theirs. The wider student body, both on campus and those externally based, have also re-engaged with their studies and academic work and are ready to step in to the first trimester of the 2021 academic year. It feels as if the week has been one long party! Sadly, not true.  
Picture credit – Webcomic
Lots to be done and so little time in which to do it…  Presentations on Future Fit to various business groups around the region were front and centre this week, including an engagement with the UNE Professoriate to discuss its implementation. An early morning Mentor Walk in the mist around the city with new arrivals to our community. Participation in the Academic Board and Council’s first meetings of the year with a focus on UNE Academic activities across teaching and research. Meetings with my fellow NSW Vice-Chancellors to review enrollments and also the planned return of international students. Dialogues with key lobbyists on the subtext of the new Regional Renaissance proposals and how to better situate UNE in the conversations of related public policy. Logged into a forum hosted by the University of Melbourne to hear the first public statement from the new Commonwealth Minister for Education, the Hon Alan Tudge. Connecting with consultants preparing the economic impact study which will underpin our investment in new STEM infrastructure, as well as those who will progress the new executive appointments profiled in Time for Change.
As the year progresses at pace, discussions continue on the redesign of the Academic Calendar, progress with the Academic Workload Model which will inform how we develop the new Academic Framework, the management of load as we refine our curriculum directory and advance the new Course Design Framework and Assessment Policy. A draft of the new Teaching and Learning Strategy landed on my desk thus ensuing I have some (more) weekend reading.
Picture credit @lindsayhdp
Summer is drawing to a close; here in the New England misty mornings are a feature of the microclimate – ripening fruit and vibrant berries abound in the hedgerows. I am off to prepare for a book binding course, mourn the professional demise of Daft Punk (one of my go to favourites) and finish Marianna Mazzucato’s latest tome. 

Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO