Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ode from Brisbane Airport

So here I am sitting waiting for a delayed flight back to Rocky. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

Still it has been a good week. I have been at graduations in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Next term we are going to start delivering our business program in Geraldton in WA. It really makes you appreciate that we truly are a national university. In fact an international university if you consider our campus in Singapore and our mix of students. We are really exporting our power of place.

As always with the graduations the best part was meeting with our graduates and their families afterwards. We have people traveling to Australia from all over the world to be part of the graduation. I do urge you to try and attend a graduation at one of our Metropolitan campuses - they really are inspirational.

This has been a week of anticipation. Will we manage to secure the CSIRO building in Rocky, will the merger with CQIT happen and how well we go in the budget. Well on the whole I think we did very well in the budget. The University will benefit from the continued commitment to indexation of our funds and the increase in rural loading. There are also many opportunities in terms of funding for infrastructure. We just need to make sure we capitalise on these opportunities. We are putting a team together to work on our next EIF bid.

Let's hope we go as well with CSIRO and CQIT.

I was very honoured to be made a member of REDC the regional economic development board in Mackay. Mackay is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia and it is wonderful that we are university that services this fine city. I am confident that over the next few years we will see Mackay campus grow to be at least as big as the Rocky campus. Having a PVC and Deans based there is really starting to pay dividends.

We really are in the right place at the right time. I can think of no other place that I would want the university to be located!

On a personal level I am looking forward to the relay for life next weekend. I am doing the 3am to 6am walk - thanks Marc. I am also looking forward to going on leave in June. We are going up to the tip of Cape York with Mark and Deb Burton - expect some interesting blogs! If I ever get home I want to see what pots have emerged from a pit firing I did last week.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

I think that is how most people at the University are feeling at the moment. But I also think there is a real feeling of progress in the air. All indicators are showing that we are really moving forward.

This week we were very privileged to have the Honourable Michael Kirby on campus in Rockhampton to launch our new Law Degree. What a great man he is. He has been compared many times to Lord Denning. I think it is quite fair to say that he is the leading legal mind of our time. It was very interesting to note how he approached the launch of the degree (which he generously did for no cost might I add). It was very obvious that he had read everything there was to read about the degree. He was very complimentary about the innovative nature of the degree - on line, three year duration and very accessible. He also gave us some pointers on how the degree can be made even better and to how we should be looking after our law students. He was very concerned about some recent research that indicates that law students are much more prone to depression than students from any other discipline. This is something we will have to watch out for on our program.

Yesterday we saw the federal budget handed down. On the whole I think it is very good for rural/regional universities. We will do well in our funding due to indexation and regional loading, and there is also funding for regional infrastructure. When we become a Dual Sector University we will also hopefully benefit from the extra funding for training that was announced. On that note it was good to welcome Mr Nik Babovik on board last week as our foundation Deputy Vice Chancellor Vocational Education and Training.

Domestic applications look very good for our mid-year intake; we are up about 40% on this time last year. This is a great result. Both faculties are doing well - but yet again nursing is the stand out program.

International applications and enrolments are not in such a positive position. There is no doubt that our international student numbers are down. Our staff in this area are working very hard under very difficult environmental circumstances. This week I am attending graduations in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne; it is always fantastic to see our international students graduate. We have parents fly in from all over the world to see their children reach their important milestone. Internationalisation is at the heart of our University and we will persevere with it through these hard times.

This week Anita and I have had a visiting paramedic student staying with us. Having a new academic (Anita) and a student in the house helps to keep me very grounded. It has really made me appreciate how hard both groups work. Both are very complimentary about the University - its staff and processes - it is always good to hear this.

On Monday evening I enjoyed meeting applicants for positions we have in our new degrees to come online in Physiotherapy, OT, Speech Pathology and Podiatry. We have already recruited to oral health. Planning for our allied health clinic is going well and we hope to start construction soon. This is just another example of how the University is in change mode. And I think we are going to be in this hectic change mode for at least another two years. It will have to be like this if we are going to make the most of all the opportunities that are available to us.

On a personal level I have had a couple of weekends doing very little - I can strongly recommend it! (I apologise to folks that have been working very hard over recent weekends doing res schools.) I have been having a lot of fun making pots; I took pottery when I was at school and have never really lost the love of it. Recently I found an old clay pit in Rockhampton so I have been digging my own clay. Taking clay from the ground and seeing it a few weeks later as a pot gives me a real kick!