Friday, August 31, 2012

Staff vs. Student Challenge

Anyone who knows me knows that exercise and fitness are not always as high on my priority list as they should be! But I was moved to blog about the recent Staff vs. Student fitness challenge in Rocky, organised by our always-enthusiastic staff at the CQUniversity Community Sports Centre.

This was a great event and a terrific way for staff and students to connect. Student engagement is one of the University’s highest priorities and I hope to see more of these types of activities in the future.

Below is a picture of the staff basketball team who put up a valiant fight but were beaten by the students (by a significant margin). Better luck next time, guys...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Enrolment milestone a stepping stone to greatness

QTAC has just released detailed data on first semester enrolments for 2012 – and according to this analysis CQUniversity is the most popular regional university operating in Queensland!

Based on official QTAC data comparing 11 providers in Queensland, we had 3000 new enrolments – topped only by ‘the big three’ metropolitan universities. How far we’ve come in just a few short years…

This milestone has been achieved because of a number of factors including the scope and flexibility of our program offerings, our geographical span, our investment in new facilities and equipment, the incredible efforts of many of our staff and of course our focus on renewal and making CQUniversity one of Australia’s great universities.

Increasing enrolments is one way we can define greatness but it’s by no means the only measure. Greatness can be hard to define, but some of the ways I believe CQUniversity will achieve this vision include:

Improving our research outputs – to be a great university we need to be in the top half of all Australian universities for research.

Being Australia’s most engaged university – we’ll be a university who engages with and responds to the needs of our students, staff and communities we serve.

Being a leading dual-sector university –as we move further towards a merger with Central Queensland Institute of TAFE, we can’t just become a dual-sector university; we need to become the leading dual-sector university.

Continuing to be an inclusive university – CQUniversity is proud to have the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic backgrounds and double the national average of Indigenous students. We will continue to take pride in being a university that embraces and includes students from all backgrounds, instead of defining our success in terms of elitism and exclusivity.

Delivering quality distance education programs – CQUniversity will continue to deliver high-quality distance education programs to our students.

Improving our standing as a national university – While our heart is and always will be in central Queensland, we need to leverage this and deliver quality programs to students from across Australia, and also remain as a major provider of education to international students.

Giving back – we need to be a university that reinvests in top educational outcomes and ‘gives back’ by contributing to the communities and industries we serve here and overseas.

I know these are all huge aspirations, but they can all be achieved through dedication and commitment to overcoming and meeting the challenges we are going to face. So far we have met these challenges - we have become a financially stable university, we are now a strong university and I’ve no doubt that by 2020 we will be one of Australia’s most accessible, inclusive, engaged and GREAT universities.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The importance of regional universities

Just recently the new CQUniversity Rockhampton Engineering precinct won a prestigious Queensland Master Builders award for the best renovation/refurbishment over $5 million. Congratulations to construction contractor Paynter Dixon and our own Department of Facilities Management and School of Engineering & Built Environment on this win!

This type of recognition is always worth celebrating and having an award-winning building right here on the Rockhampton campus is certainly something to be proud of.

However, the thing I am most proud of is the investment the university has made in renewing the precinct.

The $10.7 million dollar refurbishment has given a new lease of life to the precinct, which up until recently was starting to show its age. Now a whole new generation of students will be able to make the most of specialist lab areas, state-of-the-art equipment, a lecture theatre and dedicated post-grad area.

In my mind this investment represents the university’s commitment to ‘putting its money where its mouth is’ and delivering world class engineering programs to our students. Delivering quality programs to our students also means local industries can benefit from access to local graduates who have the skills to meet the unique needs of their sector.

This refurbishment has now paved the way for further growth in the CQUniversity Engineering program, including the first year of the course being offered in Bundaberg in 2013 and the proposed construction of another precinct at the Mackay campus.

Investing in our university is an investment in the local community. Delivering programs relevant to the needs of the region means young people are less likely to move away from the area to further their education and as I’ve mentioned before students who study local are also more likely to stay local.

A thriving regional university is a building block in a thriving local economy and prosperous community which recognises and values the importance of education for all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thanks-a-million Jennelle

Today our Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic & Research), Professor Jennelle Kyd, conducts her final professorial lecture at CQUniversity Mackay. Jennelle is leaving us to accept a promotion as Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at Swinburne University.

As Jennelle departs not just our University but our region, I would like to sincerely thank her in helping CQUniversity achieve a number of incredible milestones, some of which include:
  • Securing a $73.8 million Commonwealth Government commitment to help build Queensland’s first dual sector university
  • Achieving a five-star rating for Indigenous and low-socio economic student participation in the Good Universities Guide
  • Achieving a five-star rating for graduate starting salaries
  • Completing the $10.7m Engineering Precinct refurbishment in Rockhampton
  • Appointing two foundation Engaged Research Chairs in Professor Drew Dawson and Professor Brenda Happell – both national leaders in their fields
  • Appointing a foundation Pro-Vice Chancellor in Indigenous Engagement, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks
  • Completing the $12mCommunity Allied Health Clinic (Stage 1) in Rockhampton, and securing $1m for Stage 2
  • Completing the combined $9m refurbishment of the Brisbane and Noosa campuses
  • Establishing the Adelaide-based Appleton Institute and a study centre in Cairns
  • Refurbishing and upgrading the Rockhampton and Mackay libraries ($15.2m total)
  • Purchasing and establishing the Central Queensland Innovation and Research precinct
  • Putting medical imaging and sonography labs into Sydney and Mackay
  • Introducing countless new programs including medical imaging, paramedic science, allied health, aviation and Australia’s first three-year distance law degree
I know when I look at this list I am impressed, but what’s even more impressive is that there is so much more to come as CQUniversity goes from strong to GREAT.

It’s a shame Jennelle is leaving us at such an exciting time in our journey but I do wish her all the best and congratulate her on her new role. I’ve no doubt she will go on to do more exceptional things and continue to make a strong contribution to higher education in Australia.

Best wishes

Friday, August 3, 2012

A slightly different morning

I really love getting into work early – I try to as often as I can. In fact I am writing this at five thirty in the morning. I like to see the University coming to life. The grounds staff have already been at work for an hour or so when I get in at seven in the morning. It is good to get the emails cleared from the day before and reflect on the previous day.  It’s also a good time to take a look at the calendar and see what the day has to offer.

Then the emails start rolling in as people get to their desks. I am always amazed when I work on emails very late at night or VERY early in the morning maybe before five how many emails come back straight away with an answer – Rob Reed and Joanne Perry must hold the record for this. Soon after the emails start rolling in, the cars start passing my window and the car parks start filling up. Most of the many kangaroos on Campus disappear or laze under the trees as the sun starts to heat the place up. Another day begins.

At about a quarter to nine Heather Andrews (pictured) our Executive Assistance arrives. I always ask her “how was your evening/weekend”. She always without fail says “Lovely”. And she means it. I have never known anyone enjoy life more than Heather. She brightens up the day for everyone who meets her.

But today I am not getting in early. In fact I am hosting a breakfast meeting at the VC’s residence to wish Heather a happy retirement. Yesterday was the final day that Heather told me how lovely her evening had been.

Heather is one of the many unsung heroes we have at the University. Someone who makes it a better place. Someone who brightens up your day.

Heather has worked at the University for many years but I have only had the privilege of working with her for the past three years. She really made me feel so welcome to the University when I arrived. Much of what has been achieved over the past few years has been down to Heather. She has provided with me with wise council. She has listened to me twittering on about all the things I was going to do. For the most part she would make reassuring noises and smile. When the reassuring noises and the smile disappeared I always knew I was on the wrong track. I would then say – “I don’t really want to do that do that do I?” she would simply smile and shake her head. And, nine times out of ten I didn’t do it. Please don’t ask me about the one in ten times I did not heed her advice.

So today Heather parts company with CQUniversity. I know she is going to have a great retirement with Ian her partner. The whole of the University community wishes you all the very best and thanks you for a job well done.