Dean's Report

Melbourne Leadership Conference

The two day Melbourne Leadership Conference took place last week, an event which provides an annual opportunity for the University’s leadership to gather and focus on the strategies which will ensure the sustainability and flourishing of the University of Melbourne. The discussions at the conference were framed around the five pillars of the Advancing Melbourne strategy with dedicated sessions on Education, Place, Research, Global and Community.

Among many topics, we explored the lessons learned from COVID-19, the growing student insecurity due to academic, social and economic pressures, and the impact on the university sector of the federal government reforms and focus on job-ready graduates. We also discussed the increasingly competitive and open higher education market and the various options to consider in diversifying our international student population. It was also clear that the education system needs to continue to adapt to meet the needs of the country as we move further into the digital age.

We also examined how the University navigated the COVID-19 pandemic through research and the renewed approach to government research funding and the shift towards ‘applied’ research. The overarching research focus was on how we can continue to advance our impact and innovation through research translation.  Other sessions looked at how we define the University’s distinctiveness, what it means to be a member of the Melbourne community and the challenges of being a global university, particularly during a pandemic with the effects of international border restrictions, and the rising cybersecurity risks exacerbated by the global shift to remote working.

While it was stimulating to discuss all these crucial issues for the University, and for the wider community, in some ways the most rewarding part of the conference was the opportunity to once again collaborate with colleagues face-to-face after over a year of looking at each other down the lens of zoom.

Pandemic Reset Program

The Phase Two proposal for the Pandemic Reset program was released last Wednesday, which primarily affects professional staff across the divisions. At MGSE this means proposed substantial changes to our Communications and Marketing, Student Recruitment and Admissions functions which includes 12 of our staff moving to Shared Services. For details of all the proposed changes please have a look at the MGSE Change proposal on our Intranet and for wider University implications visit the Pandemic Reset program website which hosts all of the divisions’ change proposals. The University is keen to hear your feedback on the proposals so I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity and channel your feedback through the central mechanism or to Paula McAllister, Keryn Negri or myself. The consultation period will close at 5pm on Friday 14 May. This is a very challenging time for many of our valued professional staff members and I trust that you will provide them with support and understanding over the next few months.

MGSE Excellence Awards

Today we announce the opening of the MGSE Staff Awards. My thanks goes to the Associate Dean, Engagement, Associate Professor Suzanne Rice for her leadership in refreshing the awards, which has included increasing the number of teaching awards and reframing some of the award categories and selection criteria. While Centre Directors, Academic leaders and professional staff managers are required to identify two individuals and/or teams for the awards, staff are also encouraged to self-nominate. The awards form an important pathway to identify candidates for the University’s engagement awards and national and international awards beyond the University. They also serve as an opportunity for individual academic staff to contribute to their argued case for promotion.

Events return to MGSE

I have been delighted to see so many colleagues return to campus and we will now start transitioning back to in-person events at MGSE. To this end the first MGSE-Talks for 2021 will be held at Q230 on Thursday 15 April at 11am followed by a light lunch. On the following Monday 19 April at 3.30 pm we will be having a ‘Welcome Back to MGSE’ event for all staff which will provide an opportunity for us all to come together over drinks and snacks to catch up after this long year of separation. Invitations to both events will be sent shortly.

Lastly, I would like to wish you all a very happy and safe Easter – I’m looking forward to returning to Perth to see friends and family after a long absence – and I’m sure we are all anticipating a much needed break.