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

Published On May 4, 2021 | By Elise | General News, Latest News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk

Notes from the VC’s Desk

Friday, 30 April 2021


The narrative and processes of change surround and enrich my daily life; I am used to that and welcome the excitement of what will unfold. Despite their passionate willingness to be a part of something new, I recognise the anxiety of others, and I experience in a variety of ways the collective voices of those who want everything to stay the same. As I reflect on the matter I am reminded of my very first science project – looking at the process of biological change, senescence – here in the New England the theatre of autumn foliage is a vibrant illustration of these processes. [Senescence: a genetically programmed cellular process which effects the degradation of macromolecules and remobilisation of nutrients from senescing tissues to reproductive, young or even storage tissues]. I wake some mornings and know that I have senesced (more silver hairs etc.) but I also know that overnight the relocation of critical nutrients will give me energy for the day.

This week the theme of change and renewal was very much at the centre of my agenda. Developing the case for the Knowledge Creation functions, which will see us invest in and develop our capacity for research; the review of processes to support workforce design and the work to build a credible, fair and equitable performance framework for all staff. The restless voices of those rushing to finish PPDRs and connect with the news ways of working was much to the fore. Surety for those who embrace the change; for those who chose to be observers and passengers, the challenge of managing their future at UNE.

The green shoots of opportunity also featured strongly with additional support for our contributions in drought resilience, exciting developments around the proposal for UNE’s New England North West STEM Innovation Precinct, as well as applause for the wonderful collaborations and engagement with regional art organisations and our amazing collections – passion breeds passion. The work being done to revitalise the Heritage Centre is amazing; a new archivist has been recruited so now starts the exciting work of building an accessible facility which serves all of the region and further afield. Steady progress across the new Student Experience portfolio is evident in the feedback from both staff and students; there is still some heavy lifting and shape shifting to be done but in a short time period there is already genuinely valued and valuable progress.  

A meeting with the NSW Premier mid-week also fostered discussions about change and renewal. In the midst of continuing to manage the pandemic, there is a focused effort being expended in exploring, with serious intent, the journey forward. When this government’s future plans are overlayed with our Future Fit goals (collaboration, partnerships, workforce development, innovation) we have clear line of sight of the opportunities to be secured if UNE stays the course and focuses on the objectives laid down in Time for Change. It is also clear there is much to be lost and regret if we do not adapt and adopt new ways of working. The Digital+ pillar profiles this well and, in their recent workshops, highlighted not only our need to embrace change but the exciting new digital tools we might co-develop and deploy to support teaching. Similarly updates and reports from the Research Management project team showcased the value proposition to be realised from our planned investment in new systems. More change yes but real opportunity.

Thursday was a ‘Council Committee day’ with long hours spent working through governance issues ranging from Finance and Infrastructure reports to Audit and Risk, through Honorary Degrees to the  Remuneration Committee. With Council members now able to travel and convene here at Armidale the energy of the group has shifted from a pivot around COVID to the journey ahead. Very empowering to have their support and their singular investment in this institution and it’s future. 

And so to Friday – after a quiet walk in the morning mist and a quick visit to read books at Yarm Gwanga, I have been buried in Booloominbah finishing off pieces of work, filing reports and catching up with the team. Changes here as well; our beloved Amy is moving onto a new role in governance, Lisa is stepping in to focus more on strategic projects, and other people will come and go as the Time for Change programme continues apace. We filed the 2020 Annual Report – all of us celebrating how much had been achieved across the University in just 365 days and thinking about the next 3000 odd days… time for an aperitif, supper and a little time to ‘senesce’. 

Lastly, music for this week includes an old piece from Ever Eden – picture me, my ebike and ear pods. 


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO



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