UNSW to go green, gradually

The university isn’t selling its fossil fuel investments straightaway but it is getting out of cluster bombs 

Walking and talking

“Some of my senior staff think I’m indulgent talking to staff. If I walk through a building, some people won’t go with me because I’ll talk to whoever is along the way.” Deakin VC Jane den Hollander on management by walking around. Do the Deakin executives who aren’t interested in what staff and students think not realise people notice the boss talks to them but others don’t?  Did they learn nothing from watching West Wing?

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Kyd replaced at Swinburne

Swinburne University has a new DVC Academic, replacing Jennelle Kyd. Duncan Bentley is promoted into the position. Professor Bentley is now Swinburne’s PVC International.

UNSW not going green just yet

The University of New South Wales will not ban fossil fuel investments in its new investment strategy announced yesterday. Under the new policy UNSW, “will establish and maintain a climate change strategy for investments that … reflects the university’s endeavours to find solutions to climate change (but) does not exclude specific sectors or products (and) gives direction and discretion for managing climate risk and opportunity to its third party fund managers.”

“Under UNSW’s new investment policy, we envisage a gradual transition in our investment portfolio, reflecting the steps that need to be taken as Australia moves to a clean energy future. This will inevitably involve greater investment in renewable energy production and less in fossil fuels over time,” Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs said.

However the university does rule out investments in cluster bombs and tobacco.

For a university with a big green energy research rep this is definitely not a case of UNSW putting its money where its solar cells are. It certainly distinguishes it from QUT, LaTrobe and ANU, which have all gone fossil free in their investment portfolios, (CMM September 6). Nor does it seem that UNSW will be taking up the UTS commissioned plan for a NSW Treasury  sustainable investment portfolio which all the state’s universities can use, (CMM August 25).

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Jane joins Jan

Massey U in New Zealand has recruited another Australian leader to keep company incoming VC Jan Thomas, who joins from the University of Southern Queensland. Jane Mills is moving from RMIT to head the College of Health. Apparently Professor Mills, the author of five books and 114 articles is “an internationally recognised, grounded theorist.” Strange, she sounds like a high-flyer to CMM.

PM’s prizes

The Prime Minister’s Literary Prizes are announced. The non fiction award is shared by Sheila Fitzpatrick, (University of Sydney) for On Stalin’s Orders: the Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics and Karen Lamb, (Australian Catholic University), for Thea Astley: Inventing her own Weather. The Australian history prize is also shared, by Geoffrey Blainey, The Story of Australia’s People: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia and Suzanne Rutland(University of Sydney) and Sam Lipski, Let my people go: the untold story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959–89.

ATAR explainer

A learned reader predicts negotiating success for Greg Hill, as new chair of the Regional Universities Network (CMM yesterday) and beyond. It seems the University of the Sunshine Coast VC is a manager who convinces not instructs. During a low ATAR argument USC academics were upset over entry scores. Professor Hill convened an open meeting and presented data on performance of students with low entry scores showing attrition in the middle 30 per cents. “He challenged the audience to stop looking at the attrition rate and start looking at the success of these students, many of whom first came to USC completely unprepared for university,” the reader reports.

“Suddenly the focus changed and hundreds of academics and administrators were celebrating such a high level of achievement among a group of students that no one expected to have any academic potential.”

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It’s not just Deakin

Deakin U could not give its Warrnambool campus away this year, failing to find any institution interested in taking it over because of uneconomic student numbers. The problem of too few students is not one confined to Deakin. A learned reader reports Warrnambol TAFE will not teach the VCE next year for want of demand.

Not to worry if ET’s away

The Parkes’ Radio Telescope is online in the search for extraterrestrial life as part of Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner’s $100m project (CMM July 21 2015). Mr Milner is funding 25 per cent of the CSIRO telescope’s time for five years to listen for signals from ET. CSIRO calls the new search a “breakthough” with more sky scanned much faster. Yesterday the telescope made an observation of a planet, which could support life and is a mere 4.3 light years away. But while the lights are on there it seems nobody is at home. This did not upset CSIRO, “the Australian science community welcomes the opportunity to share the  data for other ongoing research projects,” project coordinator Swinburne’s Matthew Bailes says. Presumably Mr Milner is fine with this.

Bowser in business

Neuroscientist and management consultant (and how often do you read that?) David Bowser has left the Nous Group where he was higher education lead. He will focus on his Curio venture, which connects sessional staff with universities and TAFEs in need of their services.

Clinton the pick

Swinburne U politics lecturer Bryan Cranston has called the US poll for Mrs Clinton predicting she will romp home in the Electoral College, 347 to Mr Trump’s 191. He sees the Senate staying in GOP control, 51 to 49. Same for the House with the Republicans holding onto 230 districts to the Democrats 205.

Prominent Australian economists will be pleased with his presidential prediction, with 30 of 48 polled by the Economic Society of Australia preferring another Clinton in the Oval Office. 15 either did not respond or did not know and three saw a case for Mr Trump. Just not an overwhelming one. As Paul Fritjers put it; “I can’t see much effect of either Trump or Clinton on US-Australia trade. So the difference would have to come from far-fetched scenarios, such as the likelihood of costly wars begun by the winner, and I on balance don’t think Trump is more likely than Clinton to drag us into costly wars that we should not be in.”

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McDaniel moves up at UTS

Michael McDaniel,  director of UTS’s Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning is the university’s inaugural PVC Indigenous Leadership and Engagement. He has previously worked in indigenous education at Macquarie and Western Sydney universities.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. That Michael L’Estrange has left ANU was edited out of yesterday’s EDM.

Know something the world needs to know? Anonymity guaranteed but lots of questions asked, stephen4@hotkey.net.au