Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Have a great Christmas

Well here we are in Christmas week and I guess thoughts are more concerned with family and friends rather than the University – this is just the way it should be! It is also a time to reflect on the past and future.

Well for me this has been a remarkable 6 months. It has been a real privilege to be the Vice Chancellor of CQUniversity. We are really making head way and taking the University forward to being a force to be reckoned with in Higher Education. We have had some great successes in terms of independent assessment of our research and teaching quality. We have our renewal plan in place and we are well set for the future.

It has been a pleasure to work with the staff of the University. I am still finding gems and treasures as I explore the campus. We simply have some of the academics and professional staff in the sector working at CQUniversity.

I am looking forward to looking to see how we can support staff much better in the coming years. Early in the New Year we will be putting the EBA out to staff for consideration. I really hope that staff will be happy with the form of the agreement. I think staff will be pleased with the rewards package. We will have to work hard to afford the agreement – but if I was not confident that we could do it I would not have put it forward. I would like to thank all of our staff involved in negotiating the agreement. I would also like to thank the officials from the unions involved. You have all done a grand job.

We are well on the way to developing a whole range of new programs that should be available for 2011. These will give us the extra student numbers that we need – but more importantly they will serve the needs of our communities.

Our AQUA review will be one of the most important issues facing us in 2010. In the New Year preparation for the review will be the number one priority. This will be a great opportunity for us to be able to show the world just well we are doing. It will also be an opportunity for us to improve some of the ways we are doing our business.

I was very pleased to meet with so many colleagues and their families at the University Ball and Pool Party. The picture is of me and Professor Mark Burton knocking up a snack – you can see we like our food! In fact we were cooking for the kids at the Pool Party – just before a very slim Santa visited!

All the best for Christmas and the New Year

All the very best


Monday, November 9, 2009

Why we do it

I recently received the following email. Carolyn gave me permission to post it here.

Dear Professor Bowman,

My name is Carolyn Tappenden, I have just completed your WIST program with Distinction, and would like to sincerely thank you for the opportunity in taking part in the most rewarding academic venture in my life to date. I live in a remote, insular mining town and through a chance meeting with one of your staff members here in Dysart, found out about the WIST course and decided it was perfect to suit my current circumstances and goals. I have now applied to study Bachelor of Nursing at CQU. Previous to undertaking the WIST program I had no academic confidence, and felt my ability to study and learn was severely lacking. Through the support and encouragement offered to me by Nell Salem I found confidence in my abilities, and so discovered a love of the structure and discipline that accompanies learning. I have always revered the academic world and am so proud at having completed the first step into my future. Initially I was going to apply through QTAC, though even if I had of been accepted, I now feel that it would have been a waste of time and money to start university without this course behind me, due to my complete ignorance of the expectations of thesis writing at university level. I have learnt so many valuable lessons, through completion of the course, that I will take with me into the future. I have discovered a renewed resourcefulness and strength of conviction, and will endeavour to always achieve maximum outcomes in my imminent profession. The program being free was just an added bonus, for I feel no monetary value could be placed upon the knowledge and confidence I have gained. Thank you once again for this wonderful opportunity.

Yours sincerely, Carolyn

We do have a real impact on people's lives. We should all be very proud of our reputation as Australia's most Accessible University. Many thanks for the feedback Carolyn and all the very best for your future studies.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Research at CQU

It’s been a big week for CQUniversity Research with more than $2.2 million dollars in new research funding awarded and the University acknowledged as among the best worldwide research institutions. A global report on research performance, collaboration and impact (by Spanish-based SCIMAGO) puts CQUniversity at 24th in Australia and 672nd in the world (or within the top 10% of universities world-wide).

CQUniversity will receive more than $1.8m in new funding for health and medical research. $896 000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council, announced today by Minister for Health & Aging Nicola Roxson, will enable researchers at the university to contribute to the Government’s health reform agenda to improve the health of all Australians. Lead researcher Professor Kerry Mummery will look at internet based programs that have the potential to reach large numbers of people to promote physical activity, and will assess program effectiveness. I’m told more than half of Australians do not get enough exercise. (I suspect I’m one of them.)

In addition, $949 000 was awarded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) for three other projects led by CQUniversity:

$479,000 for research on children’s health and mobility

$250,000 for industrial network-based control systems

$220,000 for research on internet crime and terrorism and tracing the real source of Internet attacks to enable Australian governments to identify, locate, and punish criminals

The University is also a collaborator with other universities on two projects funded by ARC Linkage grants:

$159,106 (with Deakin University) to research defences again botnets, devastating malicious software widely utilised by Internet criminals and terrorists to bring down information infrastructure. Control of such attacks is critical to the nation’s security, long-term survival and prosperity.

$235 000 (with Griffith University) for research on children’s independent mobility, physical activity levels and social interaction especially when they travel to and from school

The ranking and the funding demonstrate that CQUniversity’s applied research has a concentration of excellence in the health sciences and information technology (CQUniversity’ s other key areas are natural resources and international education).

When Senator Kim Carr -- Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research -- and I met and talked last week we discussed CQUniversity’s partnerships with other universities, including research-intensive universities, and CQUniversity’s reputation for engaging with business and industry to conduct research that has an immediate impact on our communities and others around the world.

From rail safety and load bearing, to inner-ear infections and the health of the Great Barrier Reef, to cardiac monitoring and the sweetness of locally-grown fruit, CQUniversity’s applied research is delivering benefits to people on a local (and global) scale from activities undertaken in Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Mackay and throughout Central Queensland.

The impact of Central Queensland-based research is significant, as well, for all of Australia. It is why, for example, we conduct research on sleep deprivation and road safety; the Fitzroy catchment (the second largest in the country); biofuel which can be extracted from plants that thrive in tropical Australia; and projects, like Professor Mummery’s, on children’s health.

Compared to universities such as Melbourne or the ANU, the size and funding of our research is relatively small. Nonetheless, CQUniversity research is recognised among the best. Leading in areas where in which we are excellent and lending our expertise to partnerships with other universities, CQUniversity will continue its contribution to Australia’s target of doubling collaboration between Australian businesses, universities and publicly funded research agencies over the next decade.

The flow of knowledge among industry, researchers, government and the community is crucial to CQUniversity’s development. Increased connectivity and collaboration with partners will boost our research intensity and give us wider access to facilities and experts across the country – and that means better service and results, for Australia and Central Queensland.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Canberra and Christmas

I had an interesting week last week with a trip to Canberra to meet some of the politicians and senior officials who are in charge of Australia’s higher education system. I’m grateful to Kirsten Livermore, our local Member of Parliament in Rockhampton, who did a fantastic job coordinating and making those meetings happen.

I had the good fortune to meet with Minister Julia Gillard, Senator Kim Carr and also with Minister Warren Snowdon. I also met with senior officials from DEEWR and the Department of Health. Overall these people were very supportive of the direction we are taking the University but also noted the challenges that we face as we move forward.

I think those decision-makers were pleased to hear that we have a clear vision for CQUniversity and a path to get to that vision over the coming years,

On Tuesday I briefed Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, on our operations in Melbourne. The fact that our University runs over three states and has significant operations in three capital cities makes my job incredibly interesting….

Soon after Christmas I hope to have started a staff climate survey at the University. One of my objectives is to make CQUniversity an employer of choice. I really need to know how people are feeling about the institution and how we can do things to improve the lot of our staff. I really hope that we get good participation in the survey. One of the things that I am sure the surveys will highlight is concerns about recognition of staff achievements. I know that this is an issue in most Universities and it is one which people have raised with me at CQUniversity. I think all of us in the University have a responsibility to recognise the achievements of others. Those of us in leadership positions have a responsibility to recognise the hard work that people are doing and particularly the extra work that people are putting in to make the student experience of the University more positive. But it is not just for those in leadership positions to recognise the work of others. We all need to make it a point to comment on the achievements of others and I think this will go a long way to improving the culture within the University. I am very keen to look at how we can recognise and reward good service to the University.

Christmas is a time that has massive impact on the University. I think all of us now are talking in terms of doing things before Christmas or post Christmas. I think Christmas creates a sense of urgency in the University but this sense of urgency is one that we need to keep up for the next two or three years. It is absolutely imperative that we recruit more students for the University as we are not filling our Commonwealth Funded Load and hence are being paid for students that we do not have in the University. With the introduction of demand led funding in 2012 this situation will cease and we will lose significant income to the University. Hence by 2012 we must have another 500 full time equivalent students in the University. This is not a want it is a need!
We’ll achieve this together by recruiting more students and retaining the students that we have and I am looking forward to working with you all over the next couple of years to make these numbers reality.

Christmas is also a time to celebrate and I am very grateful to staff who have decided to organise a Christmas Ball this year and also a Children’s Christmas Party, I think these will be great events which will celebrate the end of a very challenging year. You would have received a short email about this last week, with more details to follow. I hope you will be able to attend these events.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Staff recognition

I recently received an email and had a conversation with staff member Sue Praed about staff recognition and thought I’d share with you Susan’s remarks. Staff recognition is a subject that I’ve been discussing with others and I hope that before Christmas we can conduct a CQUniversity staff climate survey which will tell us a lot about they way people feel about the uni. I expect “recognition” will be a factor – it is in just about every other university!
I think Sue’s comments are very worthwhile.
(And Tim [see email below], – sounds like you are getting this right – WELL DONE. I hope you will be able to bring your experience to the CQUniversity Senior Leadership Conference next month.)


Here are Sue’s remarks:

From: Susan Praed
Sent: Thursday, 22 October 2009 2:59 PM
To: Vice Chancellor - CQUniversitySubject:
Staff Recognition Program

Dear Scott,

Let me briefly introduce myself to you. My name is Sue Praed and I am currently EA to the Head of School, Computing Sciences, Tim Roberts. I have been employed at CQUniversity now for the past 9 years. During this time, I have worked at Bundaberg Campus in Administration, STEPS and Student Services, relieved staff when on leave in Informatics & Communication and Business and Law.

Since commencing in this role in April 2009, I have been wanting to put forward an idea to recognise staff for different reasons. This may have already been suggested to you, my apologies if it has, but I would like to continue just in case it hasn’t.

Prior attempts have always been met with, we don’t have the faculty funds/budget to do such things for our employees because the policy doesn’t allow expenditure for such items. My initial request was for small gifts of appreciation, ie. Christmas cards for the school staff, random free goods, ie. coffee vouchers, book vouchers, free donuts and or other small gifts that can brighten peoples days. Additionally, a recognition email, perhaps once a month recognising long hours, good work or dedication to a particular task/job, either individual or group. In the School of Computing Sciences, I have adopted birthday emails to staff from our school and recognise years of service via email when they occur. Tim sent all school staff a Christmas Card for the first time in 08 and he continually recognises staff in his school and has built great rapport with them. They are very lucky to have him as their supervisor. It sounds simple, but it’s effective, they do say it’s the small things that count. I often reflect back to my days with BHP, where HR was very active in recognising employees for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years service etc, with medallions, engraved pens, party to the value of X and a gold watch.

I have bounced ideas around with a few staff here and our Head of School, but now would like your thoughts on perhaps expanding this suggestion to the next level. I regularly get information emailed to me from Red Balloon, a company that specialises in giving pleasure and ultimately impacting employees of large and small organisations. If you have time, some articles can be found at
http://www.redballoondays.com.au/corporate/news. I believe these good news stories currently meet with your goals and visions for the future.

Seeing the damaging and prolonged effects that low morale can have on people saddens me. Over the years, staff have really been hit hard due to numerous restructures/changes etc. It is important to the development of staff that they feel appreciated in their work. This in turn, increases morale, productivity and most importantly, collegial relationships. With you on board, what a perfect time to build on boosting morale by instigating an employee recognition program here at CQUniversity. We’ll have everyone wanting to work at the best regional university in Australia!

Thanks for your time in this Scott,

Kind regards,

Susan Praed
Administrative Officer (School Operations)
School of Computing Sciences
Faculty of Arts, Business, Informatics & Education

Friday, October 16, 2009


Ever been audited? You usually don’t get much advance notice and you’re left with a sinking feeling in your stomach.

Universities all over Australia get audited regularly all the time. We generally do get notified early, but that does little to dispel the butterflies.

A year from now CQUniversity will host auditors from the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) for our second review. We’re told they’ll be interested in discussing two things during their scheduled visit: our Learning & Teaching quality and Internationalisation.

So, why the butterflies? There’s good reason. If an organization doesn’t measure up against standards it risks losing its accreditation. Even if the outcomes are mixed and a University is commended for doing most things well (CQUniversity was invited in 2006 to submit six entries to AUQA’s database of good practice, the second highest number of entries from among all Australian universities), other conclusions and recommendations made in an AUQA report can be damaging to a university’s reputation.

At CQUniversity we are open and transparent about our programs and services. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from the Audit about how well, or not, we are doing in meeting our goals and servicing our students and other customers.

The upcoming Audit couldn’t come at a better time for CQUniversity, following restructures and the purchase of CMS and ongoing work throughout the organisation that is making us the most engaged university in Australia.

AUQA is not about rankings or ratings and the auditors don’t give out gold stars. They’re interested in establishing just how universities are meeting their goals, how effectively they gather information to measure progress, and how efficiently they are at identifying and addressing the issues that sometimes get in the way of achieving those goals. In addition, auditors verify that all institutions meet relevant legislated requirements and standards. The Audit team defines quality as “fitness for purpose” and they will assess CQUniversity procedures, policies, and processes.

In context of our preparations for upcoming Audit we run the risk, however, of becoming easily distracted. Let’s not lose sight of issues that resonate with our students in our communities: quality and excellence, real choice and diversity, university autonomy and academic integrity. These are the issues at the core of CQUniversity’s Strategic and Renewal Plans.

Over the next 10 to 12 months we are going to work together on the Audit preparations, not a stand-alone separate “get ready” exercise, but as part of our ongoing commitment to improvement and making CQUniversity even better. Remember we’re going to be one of Australia’s ‘great’ universities in ten years!

Whether you are a professional or academic staff member, a domestic or international student or a community stakeholder, your input to the Audit preparations and the Audit itself is vital.

The Corporate Projects Office staff will coordinate many opportunities for you to participate. Please do so.

In the meantime, re-read the Renewal Plan and the Strategic Plan. Familiarise yourself with University policy.

Most importantly, however, remember as you prepare what’s really crucial is that we look at the University’s long-term future, and the journey of renewal on which we’ve embarked. Think of the Audit simply as a useful and powerful tool that we can use to help transform CQUniversity. It is also a chance for us to show off what is great about our University.

By the way this picture is me with the cast of Bumpy Angels – a production put on by the Bachelor of Performing Arts. I really enjoyed their performances this year. This is yet another example of how we engage with our community to help cultural development.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Access and social inclusion

I mentioned at Academic Board this week that Access is to us what Research is to the ANU. Access and social inclusion is where we excel. About 43% of our students come from low social economic backgrounds. Think about that for a moment 43%! No other university in Australia does better. The Rudd Government has a target of getting 20% of university enrolments from low social economic groups by 2025 – we are already over double that target. It is fantastic that we have a Government that is encouraging the type of higher education that we do so well.

Minister Julia Gillard really seems to understand the importance of social inclusion and the dramatic impact that higher education can have on people’s lives. The Department of Education Employment and Work Relations (DEEWR) are doing a good job in linking higher education, workforce issues and higher education. We will get an opportunity to show how we can contribute to this later in the year when we start to put our Compact document together.

We have just gone through a round of graduations and awards ceremonies. For me these are the best part of the year. I enjoy the ceremonies – which we do very well – but for me the best part is meeting with the students and their families afterwards. Many of the families that I meet have had no contact with a university in the past. The level of pride is incredible. My family background is very similar to many of families that I meet – so I understand the pleasure and impact that graduations have!

This week I also went to an awards ceremony in the local correctional facility. Most of you in Rockhampton will know that this is a maximum security prison. The ceremony was very moving. The students we gave awards to were just so proud to have achieved so much under such difficult circumstances. Some of the students had completed our TEP (Tertiary Entrance Program) course; others where part way through their degree. The TEP program includes first year degree subjects. The only difference between the TEP subjects and the degree subjects is that the TEP students are allowed to re-submit their assignments. One student had re-submitted an assignment 5 times before getting a pass mark! This shows three things: his determination, his achievement to finally pass and our resolve not to lower standards.

It was a little strange to be in a maximum security prison discussing poetry metaphors with one of our graduates – but that is the kind of university that we are. It is also interesting to note that we have students in just about every major correctional facility in Australia. Much of this success is due to the hard work of the staff in Nulloo Yumbah, CQUniversity's Indigenous Learning, Spirituality and Research Centre.

The longer I am at the university, the more impressed I am by our staff. What you achieve is second to none. You know I have an aspiration to make this one of Australia’s “great” universities in ten years – in many areas we are already there!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Leaders in Universities

Yesterday I met with the Professoriate of the University. What a fantastic bunch of people. It is good to know that we have such academic “grunt” driving CQUniversity. Like all staff that I have met at the University they all have a real passion to drive the University forward. They truly believe in the CQUniversity – and what it can become. All of our professors are academic leaders and are central to our future success.

My meeting with the Professors got me thinking about leadership and management in universities. I think there are two very closely related groups of academic leaders within a university. They are the scholastic leaders and the managerial leaders.

The scholastic leaders are the academic leaders who are exemplified by our professors. They have become leaders through there mastery of their discipline and through research. I think we also have scholastic leaders who have got there through mastery of teaching and learning practice.

The managerial leaders are those who got there through mastery of managerial processes. This group of managers are exemplified by our Directors and Heads of School. The Heads of School also need to have gained academic credibility through scholarship so it could be argued that they are a “blended” leader!

I think that in universities the relationship between managers and leaders is not fully understood. At times I think we sometimes make scholastic leaders managers – just because they are a good scholastic leader. We often take good teachers and researchers and twist their arms to be managers – Heads of School. What we should be doing is finding the people who have a love of management and have academic credibility – the “blended leaders”.

We need to start to track down the “blended” leaders and make them professional academic managers. These should be our Heads of School. They should be given autonomy to become empire builders and be allowed to grow their schools to teach more students and undertake more research. They should be developed so that they can safeguard the welfare of the school staff and develop them into the leaders they want to be. I think they should be seen as senior managers within the university and placed on management contracts.

But what about at the executive management level? Should the PVCs, DVCs and Executive Directors be scholastic managers, managerial leaders or blended leaders? I believe that there is room for each of these types of leaders at the top. In fact you need a mix of all types of leaders to have a successful and balanced university. I think that everyone in a university should able to see a route for them to the top of the university. I will leave it to you to decide what type of leader the VC should be!

By the way a member of staff sent me a really interesting link to a site about motivation in organisations.


Daniel Pink reflects of motivation in organisations. I am very taken by his ideas – if you have time do have a look.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blended teaching and mobile learning

It’s a fact here at CQUniversity, as it is elsewhere: more and more learning material is being put on-line for students to self-select, self-direct and manage their own learning, which is great. It provides flexibility and can overcome the tyranny of distance that so often challenges learners, especially those scattered across Central Queensland’s vastness. The technology provides wider access to the University and enables students, who for many reasons – work, location, personal commitments and otherwise – may not have been able to start, conduct or finish their course or degree without it.

CQUniversity was a pioneer in Australia of this type of learning – then called Distance Education (DE) – decades ago when far-off students would get audio or VHS tapes posted in the mail along with reams of paper-based learning material.

I used to be a DE student (I did my PhD and MBA through DE). It was wonderful in many respects but a downside remains despite all the advancements: limited human interaction or engagement in the learning environment, leaving many students wanting and needing more substance, hands-on learning, and face-to-face encounters with their teachers and peers.
It’s an issue that university administrators and academics struggle with all the time: finding a balance in course delivery that allows us to reach as many students as we can in a format that truly engages, inspires and results in consistently exceptional learning encounters and outcomes.
Over the years DE has taken on different names and nuances, thanks to changes in technology and pedagogy and plain old trial and error. You may have heard of Flex or Dual Mode or Mixed Mode. All over the world today, however, universities are experimenting with and adopting what’s described as Blended Learning.

It’s a methodology or philosophy that’s supposed to increase options for greater quality and quantity of people-to-people interaction in learning. You can read some more about it by Googling the term or reading the wiki entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blended_learning.

Here’s a relevant paragraph:
Blended learning offers learners the opportunity “to be both together and apart. A community of learners can interact at anytime and anywhere because of the benefits that computer-mediated educational tools provide. Blended learning provides a ‘good’ mix of technologies and interactions, resulting in a socially supported, constructive, learning experience; this is especially significant given the profound affect that it could have on distance learning.

Across CQUniversity we have done and are doing this in most courses and programs, but not all. And not to the extent that I think we need to today to stand out and reclaim our position as a national innovator and leader in the Teaching & Learning space. As part of CQUnversity’s Renewal Plan we’re looking at our current methodologies, technologies and pedagogies so we can provide Learning & Teaching that not only enhances the student’s learning experience but also adds significant value to his/her learning outcomes, whether studies are undertaken on- or off-campus.

“Blend” indeed has numerous meanings: to compound; to coalesce; to merge or combine; to make uniform; etc. Notwithstanding these definitions, in our context I think it most accurately means obtaining a mixture of a particular character, quality, and consistency that is identifiable as uniquely CQUniversity in all of our Learning & Teaching, which adds real value to the course/program and the student experience.

A conversation is already underway presently at the University based on a recently drafted discussion paper. Join us by posting a comment and let me know what you think.

By the way, many thanks for all your participation in my Inaugural Lecture web-cast yesterday. Please continue with your comments and I’ll try to keep-up and respond. If you missed it you can link to it from the CQUniveristy homepage http://www.cqu.edu.au/


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Live Video - Vice Chancellor's Inaugural Address

My Inaugural Address will be broadcast live over the Internet.

When: 5.30pm AEST Wednesday 16 September

Click here to review the Inaugural address

Click here to provide feedback or ask questions during or after the event

Please Note:
  • If you are connecting via a modem or have a slow Internet Connection, you may only receive audio
  • Please see our technical help page if you have any difficulties accessing the video/audio
  • I recommend that you test the link above prior to the event, to ensure that you do not have any technical issues during the event

Monday, September 7, 2009

Merit, need and engagement: The Role of Scholarships in Strategic Enrolment Management

Access to higher education is a long-standing priority of CQUniversity. We have at least five major programs in place that engage so-called non-traditional students, significant support services for international and domestic students (like the First Year Experience program), and access to a couple of million of dollars in various scholarships and grants which make university more affordable and attractive for students – some of which comes from generous private donors and others from government grants and community organisations.

Over the coming months, as we explore numerous strategies to increase enrolments and completion rates among domestic and international students I want for us to consider, among other things, the roles Scholarships and Financial Assistance play (and could play) in recruiting and retaining students.

Scholarships and grants can and do make a difference for a significant number of people, not just those from underrepresented backgrounds, when it comes to choosing a University and completing their degrees. And they’re taking on a more central role in universities’ information sharing with prospective and other students. So much so that six months ago another Queensland university established an Office of Prospective Students and Scholarships which brought together numerous university functions and resources under one umbrella.

I’m not suggesting that we take on that structure; what I am stating is that we need to consider the implications, benefits and risks of engaging students in a support structure that exploits more fully the advantages that scholarships and grants, based on merit and financial need, provide (to the student, the community and the University) at each stage of the Student’s Learning Journey – prospect, student and graduate.

With that in mind I want to look at existing programs, marketing initiatives and incentives which may no longer be relevant to our current and future needs and redirect much needed resources.

One of those programs is our Study with Friends and Family program (SWFF), a referral scheme we have successfully run for more than 10 years for international students. Students who referred other students to the University were able to qualify to accumulate ‘rewards points’ which then could be redeemed mostly for discounts on textbooks, phone cards, even airfare back home.

Whilst SWFF is compliant with ESOS legislation and does not compromise academic integrity, research shows it no longer appears to be relevant to most of our students or as a University marketing and recruitment strategy. Since 2005 it accounted for a total of 6.7% of our commencing students; but for the last two years only 11 students out of 1700 students at CQUniversity Melbourne have benefited from the program, only acquiring textbook discounts or international phone cards.

I have therefore decided it is the best interest of our students and the University to wind down this program and redirect resources, as a first step, to reinvigorate merit scholarship and bursary programs that reward academic excellence and make CQUniversity more accessible to qualified students from all backgrounds and countries.

In doing so, CQUniversity will still continue to benefit from good word-of-mouth among its students and graduates. Studying with family and friends, as a practice, will be something we continue to promote because we believe many students perform better surrounded by people they know and trust in an environment that is close-knit and personally supportive.
And we will still encourage students to share their experience. With or without a ‘reward’, like a textbook or a laptop, our students know that there is no one better than themselves to tell prospective students about the quality of CQUniversity’s programs and academic support services.

I believe a university-wide strategy which uses scholarships to reward academic performance and financial aid to make uni more affordable will increase and stabilise our domestic and international student numbers and enhance the profile and reputation of CQUniversity. It’s one way that we can help more people be what they want to be.


PS. I’m delivering my Inaugural Lecture at CQUniversity on Wednesday 16 September at approximately 545pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). You'll be able to access the live webcast here at the blog and send me comments/questions during the presentation. Hope you can join me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Building up engagement and trust

Over the next few months and years I will be working with you on a program of renewal for CQUniversity that is reliant on real, meaningful engagement and focused on building-up our reputation based on demonstrated accountability and transparency throughout the University. Staff, students, alumni, community and government expect accountability and transparency from us and we owe that to them – the people and organisations who support us now and into the future, our stakeholders.

It is my role, and that of all of us really, to do a better job of telling people what we are working on and changing that will help us become more engaged with our communities, more efficient and effective in our use of public funds and more responsive to the teaching and learning requirements of our students.

In the current economic, political and regulatory climate, however, we can become easily preoccupied by the complexities of funding, our ‘compacts’ with government and numerous issues around the provision of higher education in regional and international contexts – all worthy and extremely important issues in their own right. Distracted at that level, though, we risk losing sight of issues of primacy that resonate in our communities such as quality and excellence, real choice and diversity, university autonomy and academic integrity.

These are some of the issues, at the core of CQUniversity’s Strategic and Renewal Plans, which – linked to clear performance indicators and targets – will drive accountability and, by extension, drive the direction in which we go.

Equally, this information will be used as our report-card to ourselves and to the community, providing each of us with clear and consistent information about our purpose and performance. It will also help prospective and existing students, staff and other stakeholders (including government) make better informed choices about CQUniversity.

By being more accountable we will build more trust within the University and among our external audiences. Along the way we will stimulate a lot of dialogue (and probably some diatribe, too). What’s important to me is that accountability is comprehensive across the University and that we are engaging each other in a conversation that will create greater understanding of how and why we operate and what we are doing to manage costs and add value to the student experience.

Let’s not view accountability as a Herculean task but as an opportunity to engage and build trust … and renew CQUniversity.


Friday, August 21, 2009

The Engaged University

It’s come to the end of my third week as Vice Chancellor – quite possibly the most unsettling but satisfying three weeks of my professional life as I come to learn new things and discover for myself all the excellent people and projects underway at CQUniversity.

I’ve spoken and met with hundreds of staff and community members – including current students and alumni – and I must say that I’ve found all of these encounters enriching and thought provoking. We’ve talked mostly about CQUniversity’s role in Central Queensland; how the University is perceived and the many things we should and can do together to build-up Central Queensland and make CQUniversity the best regional university and one of Australia’s greatest universities.

I’ve also met with Queensland Minister for Education and Training Geoff Wilson and representatives from DEEWR (the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations) and I have been very encouraged by their interest in our activities.

Much of the conversation has been around access to university, career outcomes for our students, and the relationships that the University has with industry, government and businesses in Central Queensland.

I’ve been listening a lot and talking with people, too, about making CQUniversity the most engaged university in Australia. We’ve been focusing on how CQUniversity engages and will engage and, in turn, how CQ communities will become more learning-orientated. I’ve come away from every one those gatherings believing more firmly that CQUniversity’s transformation can only be achieved when we – with community – define our problems jointly, set common goals, develop measures of success and leverage university, public and private resources.

We must also leverage the “power of place” – the bond that exists between people and Central Queensland; its natural resources, characteristics and geographical location. The role of the University is to make that bond stronger by drawing on the strengths that exist in the communities we serve and our equally giving back to those same communities through research, learning and teaching and other services.

That “power of place” can be applied to how the University approaches its Learning & Teaching, from face-to-face to fully online teaching, as well as our engagement with partners on research projects that involve mutual input and benefit.

We’ll be working closely with State and Federal Governments and consulting widely in Central Queensland, harnessing that “power” to introduce new programs (perhaps in areas such as health, sport and engineering), broaden community access to courses and give our students greater control over their learning environment and outcomes.

Ultimately more Central Queenslanders, who are under-represented in higher education, will become active learners benefiting from their local university. Over the next two-to-three years, more than 10 thousand new students from Central Queensland will come to CQUniversity. Or perhaps more accurately said, we’ll come to them.