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

Published On April 9, 2021 | By Alana | General News, Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk
Another week of autumnal glory here in the New England and some respite from the challenges of recent adverse weather events.

News of further release from COVID engagement constraints has allowed UNE to formally move to the next phase of our return to campus plans and open up fully for T2/2021; I know this will make a lot of our students happy. It does mean we can increase occupancy and load on most of our sites (currently at about 60%) but does still limit the number of non-University affiliated guests we can accommodate. I am besieged by requests to relaunch Graduation and other such events – we hope to be able to do this later in the year when the weather is more certain and we can rely on the use of our open spaces; currently we are bound by the challenges of our built environment in the context of both institutional and community safety. Further delays in the vaccine roll out programme is another point of reference.  At the other end of the scale, the ‘bubble’ between New Zealand and Australia is positive news.

This week much of my attention has been focused on staff. I have spent time progressing PPRD across my office and moving forward with the next stage of recruitment under Time for Change. A provisional update from the recent 2021 UNE Check in Survey indicates a good response rate from full time staff and provides confidence to complete data analysis and develop actions based on the feedback. Important work around academic promotions, the development of a framework for new teaching focused roles and the evolution of our draft scholarship strategy featured in a number of places. Further work on the new Academic Workload Model which will underpin our Academic Framework also featured in my task list; here, the translation of sector bench marking data and wider reviews of exemplar workload models were the focus of our current effort in support of testing the pilot and data processing. Consideration of options for the proposed Knowledge Creation functions were advanced as part of Time for Change and a key part of implementation of Future Fit with information gathering taking priority.
 
I also dedicated time to the next stage of scoping the proposed New England STEM Hub(s) – our ‘precinct with walls’. A project director has been appointed and development of the design brief is now advancing, to enable the open community dialogue and networking exercise. The early response from various stakeholders is both energising and uplifting, and the provisional economic impact assessment has given new purpose to the project with a view of the multiple benefits it will bring to UNE and the New England region. 
 
And so to Friday – it seemed like a long week despite being shorter… An early morning swim, meetings with the Zoom monster at my side, a couple to deeds to sign and – surprise, surprise – a small mountain of paperwork to nurse! I am sneaking off early to have a haircut and catch up with some community champions for a beverage and gossip… After Easter excesses, an (almost) Malteser free weekend is planned.

Enjoy the weekend break and stay safe.

Sincerely,

Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO

UNE

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