Dean's Report

Meeting with the Vice-Chancellor

Last Wednesday, the Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell joined a small group of senior MGSE academic and professional staff for a wide-ranging conversation, which included the challenges the University community has faced in 2020 and the progress made in implementing the Advancing Melbourne 10 year strategy. He believes the University is not only well placed to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic but will thrive. He mentioned how impressed he was by the remarkable creativity MGSE staff displayed in their move to remote teaching and the considerable and consistent support staff have given our students over the year. The flip to online learning, he said, showed that the University is capable of this sort of rapid change and we now need to focus on improving these skills, that in many ways COVID-19 has led us to examine and re-imagine what it means to be a campus. Duncan indicated that he would like to have more of these forums in 2021 as a way to better understand the viewpoints and concerns of faculties and graduate schools.

ARC Discovery grants

I was delighted to receive the news of the successful ARC Discovery grant awarded to Professor Emeritus Johanna Wyn, Professor Helen Cahill and team for the project Young people shaping livelihoods across three generations.

This project will add a third cohort to the Life Patterns longitudinal research program (which has previously been supported by ARC funding). The investment in cohort 3 will create an unprecedented three-generational longitudinal database on the trajectories of Australians, one of the first of its kind internationally, putting it at the forefront of its field through its capacity to explore the impact of social change across multiple life domains, time and generations.

Warmest congratulations to Professors Jan van Driel and Liz McKinley who have also been awarded ARC grants led by other universities. Professor Jan van Driel will work with colleagues from Monash and Deakin universities on a project titled Primary teachers' adaptive expertise in interdisciplinary maths and science. Professor Liz McKinley will collaborate with colleagues from Charles Darwin University, The University of Queensland and the Australian Catholic University on a project titled Deadly Start: Enabling Preschoolers’ Literacy, Numeracy and Wellbeing.

Retirement

As many of you would now know, Associate Professor Terry Bowles will be retiring at the end of this year. In his nine years with MGSE, Terry’s research and teaching has centred around educational and developmental psychology as well as clinical psychological practice. His contributions to MGSE’s Educational Psychology program have been highly regarded and his commitment and dedication to the field of psychology is highlighted by his extensive publications and successful research grants. Terry will remain connected to MGSE in an honorary capacity and I’m sure you all join me in wishing him well in his new endeavours.

Guidelines on group gatherings

As the festive season rapidly approaches the University has provided some guidelines around social gatherings and work functions. As mentioned in my last report the University is still under the ‘restricted’ category which limits our face-to face interactions with colleagues meaning that our work will continue to be conducted virtually for the rest of this year and into the start of next year. The University has advised that where gatherings are exclusively for social purposes (for example, social lunches, informal catch-ups outside work hours etc.) the University does not need to be informed or provide approval. Of course, I would encourage all staff to exercise judgment and comply with local vendor and Government regulations around COVID Safe behaviours.

As Christmas parties are considered work functions, unfortunately we will not be able to hold our traditional MGSE Christmas party at studioFive. We will organise a short staff webinar in order to bring us all together before the holidays and to acknowledge the incredible work achieved by MGSE this year. Hopefully, at some stage next year we will be able to gather together again in person and toast all the achievements of the COVID-19 year!

Jim