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

Published On June 22, 2021 | By Elise | General News, News, Notes from the VC's Desk

Notes from the VC’s Desk

Friday, 18th June, 2021

A colleague noted at coffee this morning, “it has been a long short week”. It made me ponder…

Worked through Monday at my own pace, as opposed to being subject to the tyranny of my diary, and finished a book chapter for Oxford University Press. Also attacked the weeds in my vegetable garden in preparation for the development of new raised beds and plantings for spring. The cats throughout this exercise were about hunting each other or me, or both. We were all exhausted at the end of the day.

Flower vases

The Executive Team worked through a long agenda on Tuesday with topics ranging from academic workload, new academic offerings for 2022, development of the business planning cycle for 2022 and what follows, the need to improve our interactive dashboards to make them more accessible and updates around PPDR uptake, the leave liability position for 2021 and WHS issues. A comment often repeated is the complexity of our business and the common intersection points across so many pieces of work underway.


By close of Tuesday I was sitting in Sydney watching raindrops track down the hotel window whilst I worked through an update of our institutional performance dashboards. Wednesday was consumed with interview panels for a Board I serve on through the Department of Industry. A great professional development, networking and intelligence gathering opportunity. I was a guest of ANSTO for the opening of their new Innovation Precinct ‘Nandin’, with the ribbon cutting honours going to the NSW Premier who has been an active advocate for precincts. No need to ask about what I spent my time promoting – work towards our own version of a ‘regional precinct’ and preparations to launch the next consultation phase later this month. Moved from the Nandin opening to strategy briefing on the planning work being done to inform our development of UNE Metro before travelling through more rain to the airport and back to Armidale. A flight that required navigation through a couple of storms with a very interesting landing!

Thursday was largely devoted to a series of committee obligations both internally and externally with common threads around cybersecurity, workforce design, professional development and well-being, quality assurance issues and the genesis of appropriate risk appetite structures. One rarely gets to combine executive obligations and research interests; this week that was an option I revelled in. I did play with deuterated ice (a blend of chemistry and crystal science) as part of a session on opportunities to develop an Australian vaccine manufacturing capacity (happy to discuss more with any materials science enthusiast).


Friday dawned cold and then wet! (yes it has rained all week in the places that I have been – very Blade Runner). More importantly Friday was the 2021 Council Retreat – a long day addressing governance, performance dashboards, the new digital pedagogies which UNE is developing for discipline based teaching and for student support more generally, the digital transformation agenda underpinning our business systems needs and the impact of upstream/downstream decisions on our students. Take home messaging around inherent innovation capacity of UNE staff and students. Students from the colleges joined us for morning tea and shared their views of life at UNE. A rich, informative and inspiring day.

flower vase

As the cold fingers of winter gripped me through further driving rain and sleet, I started packing up my desk and pouring papers into my satchel for the weekend catch up. I have a number of meetings with stakeholders lined up across the weekend, so despite some constraints on my time, hoping to finish the current book (Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart) and catch a movie (any suggestions that do not include superheroes?) So yes, a long short week.




Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO


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