I have made the comment to a few meetings that the period following the Federal Budget has felt a bit like starting a new job – weeks seem to have lasted for months and there has been a lot crammed into a short space of time. What has not been crammed in has been an update through this blog, although there have been a couple of all-staff e-mails about how we are handling the expected fallout from the reforms. If you have been following the press, you will have seen that the Government appears ready to compromise on the reforms, particularly on the interest rate on the debt. However, we also hope for compromise on the level of cuts to government support which will force fees up significantly if they go ahead as planned. Stay tuned on this as we have a Universities Australia plenary meeting this week at which the Minister is speaking so I hope to get an update there.
For this blog I wanted to concentrate on some positives in the last month or two. Firstly, and very importantly, we have announced that the next Chancellor of Charles Sturt University will be Dr Michele Allan. Dr Allan has a long background in rural and regional industries and in education, and has significant experience with boards. She will take up her appointment in December following the retirement of our current Chancellor, Lawrie Willett AO. I am really looking forward to working with Michele but will be equally sorry to lose Lawrie who has guided and supported me during my first two and a half years as Vice-Chancellor. We will have the opportunity to say farewell to Lawrie and to welcome Michele later in the year.
To continue that theme, we also inducted new Council members over the last month. This includes Associate Professor Lyn Angel as the newly elected academic staff representative, replacing Dr Sue Wood, and Rowan Alden as the newly elected student representative, replacing Saba Nabi. This blog post is a good opportunity to acknowledge the work of both former and current Council members. The University Council has overall responsibility for the direction and governance of the University. This means that it approves the University’s strategy and major decisions and policies about our activities and locations. The Council also monitors how well we are doing academically, financially, culturally and in our service to our communities. As well as elected representatives, the Council includes members appointed by the NSW Government, and members appointed by the Council including graduates of the University or its forerunner institutions. We have a great range of experience on the Council from business and education, and Council plays an extremely important role in supporting University management in navigating challenging times.
I also wanted to note the Staff Excellence Awards which started two weeks ago in Bathurst, continued in Dubbo last week and will finish in Wagga Wagga in early September. These are an opportunity to recognise the efforts of staff across the institution and it is a very rewarding process to understand the great work that people are doing. Chika Anyanwu, Head of School of Communication and Creative Industries, did an outstanding job of MC-ing the Bathurst awards and, as I noted at the time, I reckon a gig MC-ing the Oscars beckons for him.
We have been discussing, along with the rest of the University, what we can do at the SEC level to improve communication in response to the Voice Survey. My intention is to write more frequent blog pieces as part of this. I have also been learning to use Adobe Connect with the help of Milena Dunn and I am looking to run a session for as much of the whole university as wants to take part in the next month to explain what’s happening with the Strategy refresh. We are trialling this with Vice-Chancellor’s Forum participants first. As per my comments at the start, I’m hoping we will get a clearer sense of where the Government’s reform proposals are likely to land in the closing part of this year so I will write updates as that information becomes available.