Room at the UoW top

Senior DVC Joe Chicharo will retire at year end after 36 years’ service

It appears an opportunity for relatively new VC Patricia Davidson to set her own leadership structure. She has largely worked with the organisation in-place when she arrived in May.

“The university will make an announcement in the near future about how the senior DVC role and portfolio responsibilities will be assigned,” a university representative tells CMM.

Academic freedom on agenda at James Cook U

Its enterprise agreement negotiation time and the union wants members to know the issue is on its list

Understandably so, the High Court has just found that the protections provided by a previous agreement trumped management’s code of conduct and the National Tertiary Education Union will surely want to keep it at that way (CMM November 1)

The NTEU also specifies that academic freedom should be protected “in accordance with the rights in international instruments.”  This refers to statements on academic freedom from the American Association of University Professors (1940), UNESCO (1997) the International Association of Universities (1998) and the Global Colloquium of University Presidents (2005).

Question is, after the High Court ruling in the Peter Ridd case (which JCU won for reasons outside the protection of free speech in the EA) will the university want to argue.

Virologist Eddie Holmes takes top science award

The University of Sydney researched is honoured with the PM’s prize for science following his work on COVID-19

Last night he said the last 18 months had “taught me two important things” That “scientists must share their data as openly and freely as possible” and “society must trust into science. It is science that will help solve some of the great challenges we face, like COVID.”

Professor Holmes was a member of the team that identified and publicly shared the entire genome of the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

It is one of many big years, last October he was NSW scientist of the year. In 2017, the UK Royal Society made him a foreign fellow. In June, the Australian Research Council conferred a laureate fellowship, with $3.4m for research and in October he won the NSW Premier’s Science and Engineering award.


UWA change plan hard to sell

For the second time in a decade management is having a hard time communicating the purpose and process of a savings-drive restructure proposal

The Fair Work Commission has heard a complaint from a UWA staff member that the university consultation on proposed redundancies in Social Sciences was sufficiently inadequate as to breach the university’s enterprise agreement. And there has been uproar over the proposed job cuts in Molecular Sciences.

There could be more to come in the new year. VC Amit Chakma has said seven or eight, all up, of the university’s 21 schools may need a formal process to meet savings targets, ((the others are expected to get there via voluntary separations) CMM July 16)).

If restructure proposals to date are any indication the UWA community will face more division and dispute. So far, staff in both schools have comprehensively contested the savings plans – and nothing works better in such arguments than detailed claims that management has got its numbers wrong. Once disputes move from the policy high-ground into the operational weeds overall objectives are oft ignored.

But there’s a bigger number involved – Professor Chakma’s $70m savings target –he briefed staff on the need to address a structural deficit a year back and ensure “future financial stability” and soon after rolled-out a savings strategy. Unless the university addressed its financial problems, it would “continue to lurch from one crisis to the next,” he warned (CMM September 28, October 19 21 2020).

Not all agree UWA’s books are in that bad shape, as James Guthrie and Garry Carnegie have argued in CMM, October 28 2020 and July 18 2021) but whatever the situation, management has failed to convince all of the campus community that staff cuts are the only option.

Part of the problem for management is that the university community has been here before, and not that long ago. When Dawn Freshwater, first as senior DVC and then as VC oversaw academic and professional staff restructures (CMM March 16, July 14, and August 25 2016).

The process started badly indeed for management when the Fair Work Commission told university leadership to put its plan on hold, because of – inadequate consultation. (CMM February 18, 22 2016).

ANU tops THE ranking

Good result for ANU in The Times Higher Education arts and humanities ranking

ANU rates 29th in the world, up from 35th last year and way ahead, for once, of Uni Melbourne, which is 39 this year (and 31 last).

The other ANZ institutions in the global top 100 are, Uni Sydney this year 46 (44), Uni Queensland = 72 (87), Monash U 83 (74) and Uni Auckland =94 (92).

Just outside the first hundred are Macquarie U 101-125 (down from =90 last year) and UNSW 101-125 (up from 126-150).

Times Higher adapts its standard ranking methodology for the various subject tables.

Call for more staff and students on UoW council  

A petition calls for changes to the university’s Act to “democratise and improve representation, transparency and accountability” of its council

Council has “unprecedented autonomy to make financial, staffing and coursework decisions, and provides for little or no external accountability or transparency to staff, students or the wider community,” it states. The petition laments staff and students have only three of 22 council seats and are “effectively prevented from communicating with those who elected them.” This is due to Council’s standing orders and procedures.

The petition calls for more staff and student representatives and “diversifying external membership of UOW Council beyond the current focus on business and finance.

Council attracted staff union ire earlier this year when it approved outgoing VC Paul Welling’s proposal to change the membership of the university senate, which oversights academic matters, (CMM April 15).


Appointments, achievements

Universities Australia announces Jenny Clark will be comms director. Ms Adcock will join from the Business Council of Australia. Previous roles include advising PM Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Nadia Davidson will lead a bioinformatics research group at the MRI formerly known as Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. She will move from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Peter Ebeling (Monash U) becomes president-elect of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research.

Carole Propper becomes an adjunct professor in Monash U’s Centre for Health Economics. She is a past president of the (UK) Royal Economic Society.

Mary Ryan is incoming executive dean, Arts and Education at Australian Catholic U. She moves from Macquarie U.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency has a fourth commissioner, with the appointment of veteran higher education finance analyst Stephen Somogyi. He joins Chief Commissioner Peter Coaldrake, Joan Cooper and the recently appointed Adrienne Nieuwenhuis (CMM October 5).