Now the rubber hits the road
I’ve made more than a few statements about change on this blog site over the past months – signalling it, heralding its inevitability, highlighting the need. Now past the midpoint of the transition year, we’re getting to the point where the rubber hits the road. A lot of carefully analysed water has passed under the bridge in the past eighteen months or so and we are steadily making changes in how we teach, how we research and how we support our organisation. The external world may be in flux, but internally we know what needs to be done.
The Provost’s curriculum innovation process is in full swing, with Schools actively reducing the number of programs offered and focusing on innovation in the classroom. The digital learning strategy consultation is beginning – with the potential to be truly transformative for our university. Two key new appointments will be coming on-stream shortly – a Pro-Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement and Equity, Dr Laura-Anne Bull,- and a new Dean of Graduate Studies – Prof Pat Buckley. Laura-Anne and Pat will lead out on enhancing the student experience across the board.
On the research front, the stark message evident from recent grant rounds is that we simply have to up our game. The DVC-R&I’s research review has highlighted gaps in our armoury and while I celebrate our recent successes in ARC and NHMRC grants, we are not pulling in the quantum of grant success that we legitimately expect of ourselves. This trend (and it is a trend, going back over a couple of years now) has precipitated a change in the way in which our research services are structured and delivered – and to further drive activity, our research themes will soon officially launch. However, in moving to programs of critical mass, international visibility and scale, we won’t be taking our eye off the lone scholar either – our systems are being tuned to focus our support on research productivity and excellence – as that is the only show in town when it comes to securing external peer reviewed grants or engaging meaningfully with end-users. The emergence of research themes will also see us better align research internal scholarships and supports to enable success and we will now move to recruit new academic staff in prioritised areas too, linked to our Crossing the Horizon ambition.
In terms of wider organisational supports, and also linked to one of our actions in Crossing the Horizon, in the course of this week the senior management group will review the final draft enterprise support plans for HR, communications & marketing, finance, information services and research services. The directors of each of these areas have been tasked with bringing forward integrated service plans – to maximise connectivity and efficacy across services in the university and to underpin a ‘one-team’ approach to service delivery. They’ve brought forward very clear customer-focused strategies following wide consultation and I’m looking forward to finalising the service landscape and pressing on – ensuring the best possible professional supports are in place for our teaching and research enterprise.
What is truly heartening and something we must remember – all of this is going on as we steadfastly continue to deliver ably for our students, locally and internationally. The currency of UniSA has never been higher. We should be very proud of that. Well done.
Through The Big Picture, I hope that our whole community gains a greater and current appreciation of what is going on, how it fits together and how our activities connect and reinforce each other at a whole of enterprise level.