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Cannot quite believe it is already Friday and the first week of March has been ticked off the calendar! I am still excited about the return of students for the new academic year – their enthusiasm, resilience and engagement, both physical and virtual, are intoxicating; to see and hear our student’s stories is so uplifting. It does signal for us all, a reminder of how demanding (in many different ways) the past year has been. My first college dinner for 2021 with the joyous Mary White residents was another reminder of what a difference a pandemic makes.
A lot to get done this week – I was delighted to be able to cross a few things off the list, though sadly not all and with more added – the hamster wheel concept very much in evidence!

Kicking off the week meeting with Heads of School, interviews for acting Dean position and a long session with the agencies who will support our external executive recruitment processes. Further various meetings to review and assess third party arrangements, as well as great conversations about work being done to progress the new Course Design Framework.

Following last week’s UNE Council meeting, we held a shared briefing with SLT – trying to engineer my commitment through Time for Change to a deeper, wider, faster process of sharing information. The ‘Check-In’ survey launched and the new PPRD 2021 process published. More than a little disappointed that we did not hit the ‘accessibility bar’ as high as we should on this one. 

A midweek trip to Tamworth to connect with the UNE Tamworth University Steering Group and update them on recruitment and other developments. Refreshed (and then some!) by the sugar high from home baked goods enjoyed as part of morning tea with the Tamworth Study Centre team. Celebrations as our first cohort, small but beautifully formed, enrolled under the UNE Tamworth model umbrella.

Then onto Sydney for the launch of Future Fit in Paramatta with a vibrant human and digital audience actively connecting with our proposals and future plans. Quick connects with Sydney School of Entrepreneurship who work with the SRI, meetings with various entities to support our connect with business agenda and an executive cup of tea at the University of Western Sydney sealed the business of the day.

The room at UNE Metro was at capacity for the Sydney Future Fit launch. Guests included the City of Parramatta Lord Mayor, local CEO’s and Managing Directors of key commercial organisations who are building the growth of the Parramatta CBD transformation.  There were also 118 Alumni on Zoom from all over the world including Nepal, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the US.
Bumped back to the airport on light rail and trains with my N95 mask firmly attached. Made note to remember temperature difference between Armidale and Sydney, the spare woolly jumper definite overkill. As I traverse busy Sydney, realising I’m still mourning the loss of the hug and know I am part of a throng involved in the requiem for the handshake; my new security blanket the QR code a welcome process.

As I wait on the runway to head back to Armidale, I ponder next week’s International Women’s day plans, as my focus shifts to the fact that the airport bus pick-up drop-off is located at the desperate back end of Sydney airport (why?!) and that carrying tonnes of paperwork around absolves me from a visit to the gym. If/when there is a competition for mobility around airports with one small wheelie case (7kg) and a two tonne weight briefcase – I am sure to win!  Thank you for the recent music tutorials – you know who you are.

Be safe, take care and enjoy life! ‘Life is Good’ as the t- shirt proclaims….


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO