So, this will be my final blog post of what has been a very busy year. I wanted to start by thanking all of you for reading this blog and to say I have really enjoyed the interaction and responses. Some of these have come through comments on the blog itself, some through e-mail and face-to-face interaction. I know a number of people have told me they have enjoyed the blog but have been happy to ‘lurk’. Many CSU staff have also signed up for Yammer as an internal online communication mechanism and I have enjoyed that space too.
One of the things to relay is that the University strategy document was approved (with some very minor amendments) by University Council on 6 December. The final version will be produced and issued early in the New Year and this will form our road map for the next three years. The next steps are to develop the suite of plans that sit at the level below this and also to refine the performance indicators listed in the document and bring them into a more disciplined annual review process. This also will be work for the New Year.
A brief update on two significant initiatives: Medicine and Engineering. We continue to lobby for the Medical School. You may have seen that UNSW have announced a bid for Wagga Wagga. Whilst we think it is good that the metropolitan schools are taking the issue of regional medical education more seriously, it is still not clear that the bid addresses the issues that we think are of real concern – that is that the program would have a regionally-focussed curriculum, would select based on intention to practise in regional and rural areas and would have strong regional governance and control. We are planning to promote further discussion on these issues in the New Year and also to have some further announcements about our bid. Engineering has been the subject of a lot of work through the year. It is not clear at this stage that the demand is so strong that we can afford to make the necessary capital investments to get this off the ground without government support. We therefore have more work to do with employers through 2013 to finalise this case and seek support.
As the year draws to a close, I have been reflecting on work practices and the issue of general busy-ness. Certainly the last few weeks for me with conference presentations, State and National Universities meetings, University Council and then a week of Graduations has meant there has been little time to keep on top of, or catch up on, communications (that’s why I’m writing this whilst technically on the second day of my leave). In the last week, one of the suggestions raised was that we should perhaps have an e-mail free period during the week. A number of organisations have tried strategies along these lines (I’ve also heard that some organisations ban sending e-mails to anyone on the same floor of the same building). I don’t know that it’s worth going over the top on these things but I have certainly found that for the sake of sanity, it’s good to have some self-imposed discipline about dealing with online communications. I have moved to more of a practice of ‘slow’ e-mail where I put time aside to process it in a batch and have told my direct reports I will likely only reply the next day. I also used to be a ‘news vulture’ and wake up by listening to the news. I have now stopped this and usually kill the alarm straight away. It only struck me one morning this year, when I slipped back to the old habit, what a rotten start to the day it was to begin with a summary of everything that’s bad in the world – and I don’t now feel any worse informed for the lack of it. In short then, whilst I really value the access and information we have through the Internet, I do try to make sure I am in control of my information flows rather than vice-versa.
2013 should be a very interesting year. We will see whether there have been any shifts in demand as the demand-driven funding model settles down. We will have a Federal election and we will have to see whether that brings any changes for higher education. I sincerely hope that the quality of political debate during the campaign is not only light years but several galaxies away from what we have experienced through 2012.
I would like to thank all at CSU for their hard work and dedication in 2012. As I have previously noted, it has been a real pleasure and a privilege to take on the Vice-Chancellor’s role. Whilst I do not treat this lightly, I have had an enormously enjoyable and fulfilling year and I am looking forward to an even better 2013.
I enjoy the Christmas period as a chance to refresh, renew, take stock and prepare for the coming year. After having spent a lot of time away from home this year I’m also looking forward to getting to know that attractive woman with the three stroppy children who shares my house. I wish you all a happy and safe festive season and hope that you get the chance to enjoy time with your families and friends too.