Friday, February 27, 2015

Not even a cyclone can dampen CQUni spirits

This time last week the Rockhampton/Yeppoon region was hit by a very severe weather event. Tropical Cyclone Marcia caused widespread damage to property and has left most of the region without power for a week – and counting!

My thoughts go out to the many people who suffered major property damage and loss, particularly those who also lost treasured possessions and memories. Sadly some of those who have suffered so severely are among our staff and students.

I feel extremely fortunate that the damage caused at the University was limited to a large number of fallen trees and some water damage to buildings. Both of which are things that can be easily fixed. 

The thing that has had the most impact on us this week would be the lack of power to our campus sites at Rockhampton North and Canning Street. This obviously prevented most staff and all students from accessing the campuses, but in the grand scheme of things we don’t have a great deal to complain about.

However the fact that we have been without power for a week now has caused some major disruptions to our day-to-day operations. During the week we were able to get power on to some small buildings at both campuses thanks to generators and because of this we’ve been able to continue delivering essential services to staff and students. And let me tell you, for an organisation as decentralised as CQUni, business continuity is vital! Especially when VET courses are in full swing and you’re a week out from new student orientation and welcoming thousands of new student’s right across the country.

We were absolutely tested to the limit this past week but I am pleased and proud to say that the hard work and leadership shown by staff has meant we have risen to this challenge. What’s more the lessons learnt in the past week will also make us stronger and more resilient in the future.

I really believe that disasters of any nature bring out the best in people and I was witness to this in the past week. From the facilities staff who worked tirelessly over the past week repairing damage to the campuses (even though many of them had damage at home), to the volunteers who turned out in force to help us clean up trees and debris, the amazing staff at the student residence who housed and fed search and rescue personnel, Gladstone Port Corporation for providing fuel for generators, ITD and Student Contact Centre staff who kept the wheels turning, and then of course staff from across the entire campus network who not only sent well wishes but also stepped in and got things done that we couldn't do here. I sincerely thank you all!

As well as the best coming out in people, we've also heard some great stories this week that have managed to put a smile on many faces, my favourite in particular was the story of our student’s pallet house that survived the Cyclone with not a hint of damage. It’s a great story because Angus (who lives in the house) was in Melbourne with two of his fellow students when the Cyclone hit. They were there because last year they won a major national award for not just the design of the house, but for a business concept that would see them delivering these houses to disaster affected areas. The concept houses not only provide shelter to individuals and families but the construction of the homes will provide employment.

It’s such a simple yet great idea and I think the cartoon below that appeared in The Morning Bulletin earlier this week really sums it up. I also think it is very representative of how big ideas and team work got CQUni through this disaster and how it takes a lot more than a Category 5 cyclone to dampen our spirits.

Finally, just as I’m typing this I’m pleased to say that power has just come back on at the Rocky North campus. What a great feeling!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Creating opportunities on and off the sporting field

CQUniversity is always looking for new ways to engage with our communities and to showcase what a truly great university we are. In recent years we have found that engaging with local/regional sporting events and teams has been a very successful way to get more involved with our communities. 

Sport and universities have always gone hand-in-hand. Providing sporting facilities and opportunities for students and staff to participate helps to create life on campus, and facilitates the forging of life-long friendships and networks.

Last week we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CQ Rugby to establish an Academy that aims to prevent the drain of promising young sporting and academic talent to GPS schools and sandstone Universities in the capital cities. The perceived benefits of what’s on offer in the big cities has always been available in spades in our regions, and this Academy is proof.

Players selected for induction into the new Academy will have access to CQUniversity sporting facilities and sports performance labs, where they will be guided by our top sports science researchers.

Along with this they will also be encouraged to further their education by studying at CQUniversity where they will be able to choose from a range of quality vocational and tertiary programs, and can make the most of our immersive work integrated learning opportunities.

Already 60 talented teens from across the CQ Rugby footprint (which coincidentally looks very similar to CQUniversity’s footprint, with branches in the Central Highlands, Western Queensland, Wide Bay and Capricornia) have attended residential training camps in Rockhampton.

The potential of the MOU is huge, not just for CQUni and CQ Rugby but for the many regional communities within Central Queensland. The initiative will help young people to remain in their local communities by giving players the same great opportunities that can be afforded to them in the City. Through this they will be able to gain an academic experience that complements their sporting aspirations and long term career prospects.

It’s great to have CQ Rugby on board, going forward I can see this partnership being just as successful as our CQUniversity Cairns Taipans Basketball Academy. Our engagement with these sports is just another one of the reasons why CQUniversity is emerging as one of Australia’s great Universities.