Posted 03/04/2020 by: Professor David Lloyd

This isn't another COVID-19 update with more changes arising that we need to implement at the drop of a hat.

I'm reasonably sure that it's safe to continue reading.

What an extraordinary couple of months we have been through. Since 1st Feb and the first travel restrictions that saw 1200 of our students unable to return to Australia for their studies, and the tailored flexible solutions we put in place for that cohort, through to the incredible efforts that have been made by our academic and professional staff in the last four weeks to successfully take all of our lectures and tutorials online and continue to conduct research safely. Extraordinary indeed.

We’ve put in place a grace period, post census date, out to the 1st May, to ensure our students have the necessary time to make important choices about their education. Yesterday morning we went live with our Student Hardship Fund, providing $10 million in direct supports for our most vulnerable students who are struggling with financial challenges which are deep and immediate.

I could never have imagined sending an email to over 40,000 students and staff requesting that all those who could learn or work from home, should now work or learn from home, until further notice. But that unimaginable communication was sent out last week – and we have transitioned reasonably smoothly to a wholly new normal, on a temporary basis, as we engage proactively with all recommended health protection measures during this global pandemic.

But like I said, this isn’t an email about COVID-19 or how we are managing it. We’ve had too many of those of late.

This is an email acknowledging what we have done in response to an unprecedented challenge and to thank you as the people who’ve done that work.

Thank you. You’ve been great.

You’re absolutely been there for our students and for each other and you have all been so overwhelmingly solutions focused, you’ve embodied a true spirit of enterprise.

Because, not only were we dealing with a global health crisis and totally changing the way we deliver education and conduct our operations, but in parallel, we have been gearing up to totally change the structure of our organisation – of our own volition.

I refer of course to the Academic Organisational Transformation – the AOT – which has been underway for almost a year now – since last April, when we first called for volunteers to come to Pridham Hall to help co-create a new structure for our Academic Enterprise, one built around our Programs. Over the last 12 months we have taken a journey together which, on Monday of next week, will see us retire our four divisions and fourteen schools  - a twenty year old organisational construct for UniSA, and move to a new structure of seven UniSA Academic Units.

But this isn’t even an email about the AOT and how we are managing it. You’ll get a few of those next week, no doubt.

As I said above, this is an email acknowledging what we have done in response to an unprecedented challenge and to thank you as the people who’ve done that work.

The AOT has involved a tremendous number of staff from across the organisation, coming together to literally re-build our structures and systems. This undertaking impacted on people and teams and was implemented compassionately, transparently and supportively. It impacted on systems, policies and processes at every level of the university and it was implemented professionally, with integrity and innovation.

As we are poised today to transition from the old to the new, I want to acknowledge the phenomenal complexity of this endeavour and to commend all those involved in its delivery. Many of them will be working over the weekend in ISTS and SAS, putting in even more hard yards, ensuring that the myriad systems and processes we often take for granted update and migrate into new forms to underpin the new structure of our Enterprise. They’re unsung heroes who have been outstanding.

To the Provost, Allan Evans and to the Executive Director: People, Talent & Culture, Jane Booth, and their respective teams, I give special thanks. Their stewardship of this process and the vast groups of people leading and delivering on the enabling projects has been simply excellent. I cannot recall a project of such scale and importance in our sector which has been delivered so well.

So, we are poised for change.

I had intended to have a big all-staff celebration later in April to mark the transition and to herald the boot-up of UniSA’s new Academic Units and their teams as our new Executive Deans take the helm. Unfortunately, such physical celebration will have to wait. Deferred, for a while, but perhaps as our new units Zoom one another and connect virtually, with new windows into one another’s lives as we work from home, we will gel and engage in ways we didn’t quite imagine, connected through crisis and ahead of the return to more traditional collegial engagement in the not-too-distant future.

To the Divisions and Schools to whom we now bid goodbye – we salute them and their achievements and remember how they served us well over so many years. Our new structure, program focused and of scale, will doubtless do likewise for many years to come.

Our University will continue to go from strength to strength. Unstoppable

We’re launching the new Enterprise next week – and the sci-fi geek in me can’t get over that either.

Have a good weekend everyone, stay well and stay safe.

Professor David Lloyd

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.


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