It has been a difficult start to the year as we grapple with catastrophic bushfires, the coronavirus epidemic and the deaths of some beloved colleagues. Despite these challenging times, I hope that all staff managed to have a break over the summer period and feel refreshed.
Professor David Clarke's Memorial Service
As you would be aware, our esteemed colleague Professor David Clarke died a few weeks ago after a long struggle with cancer. A memorial service for David will be held on Friday 21 February at 11 am in the Basement Theatre at the Melbourne School of Design (Glyn Davis Building). The service will also be live streamed for those unable to make it. The service provides us with an important occasion to both celebrate David’s life and to collectively mourn our loss. I would also like to acknowledge the deaths of Dr Jane Orton, who was a specialist in modern language education, and our second year Master of Teaching (secondary) student Luke Taylor.
Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV
The Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV epidemic is a constantly evolving situation for our students, staff and the University community. Chancellery is coordinating the University’s response and cascading information through the Graduate Schools and Faculties to ensure consistent communication to all stakeholders. Currently we know of at least 145 of our students who are in China and unable to travel to Melbourne. All efforts are being made to accommodate these students by filming classes and responding to student enquiries, and we are exploring alternative modes of learning that we may be able to use for students who remain isolated. It is crucial that we are flexible and compassionate when dealing with students in this difficult situation. We have an MGSE coronavirus incident control group who meet every morning to monitor the situation and a constantly updated Intranet page has been established. My thanks to all the MGSE staff who have devoted their time to dealing with this difficult issue and who are working hard to assist students to commence their studies.
Professor Lesley Farrell's retirement
Yesterday afternoon we celebrated Professor Lesley Farrell’s illustrious career and retirement. The large crowd of guests listened to the Provost Mark Considine as he recounted Lesley’s enormous contribution to the wider University, John Hattie recalled Lesley’s strong and compassionate leadership during her period as Dean of MGSE and Larissa McLean-Davies spoke of her stellar academic career and astute mentoring of staff. Fortunately for us all Lesley will remain connected to MGSE as an honorary fellow.
Setting the Scene
Last week we held our annual Setting the Scene morning and I was pleased to see so many colleagues join us as we acknowledged the highlights and successes of 2019 and enunciated the priorities for 2020. This year we had an Indigenous theme for the day in order to firmly position Indigenous matters as a clear and prominent focus for MGSE over the coming years. We were very fortunate to have Professor Marcia Langton join us to launch the MGSE Divisional Indigenous Development Plan (DIDP) and to enlighten us on the programs the University continues to pursue to increase Indigenous student and staff participation in the University, and on the 33 subjects connected to Indigenous Australia taught across the University. As Marcia emphasised our DIDP is a job for us all and this plan is the way we can contribute – “If everyone does their job properly we can close the gap.”
Senior Academic Appointments
As you will be aware we have been recruiting for seven senior academic appointments for 2020 and Iast week we conducted interviews for the role of Senior Lecturer in Vocational and Lifelong Learning. The recruitment of the six other positions is progressing well and we will keep you informed as the positions are filled.
Evening with the Dean
Last Thursday night we welcomed 55 of our new professional courses students to an Evening with Dean. It was great to see such a large turn-out of enthusiastic new students, and existing students and academics, which highlighted the importance of the connections between the different cohorts and the benefits of networks and support. It was particularly impressive to hear from one of our current Master of Education students, Komala Murugiah, who shared her experience of studying at MGSE and her passion for education and social change.
MGSE Executive Board
Last week the MGSE Executive Board met for the first time this year and we welcomed back Helen Cahill and Liz McKinley after their extended study leave and welcomed John Quay and Sophie Arkoudis who have joined the Executive in their new roles as Associate Deans (Learning and Teaching and Research). The other members of the 2020 Executive are John Polesel, Lorraine Graham, Keryn Negri, Phil Tudor, Stephanie Watson and me. The Executive Agenda included discussion of the Graduate Research coordination roles, the commencing student numbers, the status of the senior recruitment campaign and the net favourable budget result for MGSE for the second year in a row. We also acknowledged our four MGSE colleagues who received Australia Day honours – Professor Lea Waters-Scholes AM, Associate Professor Erica Frydenberg AM, Dr Linley Martin AO and Emeritus Professor Warren Bebbington AM.
MGSE Refurbishment Project
With the last of our colleagues moving into their new space in 100 Leicester Street at the end of next week, the refurbishment project will come to an end. I would like to thank everyone for their patience and assistance with this project and if there are any outstanding issues please contact our new Resources and Administration Officer, Olivia Stocks.
Victorian Bushfire Appeal
Lastly, in late January MGSE held a silent auction and raffle to raise funds for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal in order to contribute to the communities affected by the devastating bushfires. It was an excellent event, well attended and supported by staff and we raised almost $4,000. My thanks particularly to Jeanna Kriewaldt for coming up with the idea of holding a fundraiser and the social committee for bringing it to fruition.