Campus Morning Mail summer edition

The hard questions first

“What are you doing to celebrate the International Year of Crystallography 2014?”, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute asks yesterday (via Twitter).

Glover steps up

Barney Glover is now in place as VC of the University of Western Sydney. He takes over from Jan Reid who started at UWS some time in the 17th century. Don’t laugh, when Professor Reid arrived UWS was less a university than a confederacy of colleges, always asserting their autonomy with a vigour rarely seen since the 30 Years War. Her first task was to create a unified multi-campus institution, which did not take her three decades, but at times must have felt like it. Professor Glover’s challengers are much more manageable – although that is easy to say by anybody who is not  taking over a university with a long running industrial dispute. There were hopes of a settlement to enterprise bargaining negotiations just before Christmas, but they drag on still.

In breaking news

“Retro purple or white carrots might be all the rage at the moment but in 17th century Europe it was fashionable – and politically correct – to eat orange ones,” the University of Western Australia reports, show casing the work of Professor Susan Broomhall. Who said scholarship for its own sake was dead?

 Slow but sure

The inside dope on winners and losers in the 16th round of cooperative research centre applications is that astute (the astutest) observers have no clues of who will and won’t get what and when they will know. According to the ever industrious CRC Association the long delay in an announcement expected before Christmas is nothing unusual. In the past announcements have blown out to February. “The CRC Association’s understanding is that no one should read anything negative in the delay. We understand it is a very nervous and tense time, and successful bids have a limited time to pull their contracts together, however, we believe government support for the program remains strong and we don’t expect any surprises.” Translated into colloquial English I think this reads, “The program budget is not being cut, it’s just, like summer, you know?”

Irrelevant relationship

The news just before Christmas RMIT VC Margaret Gardner will take over at Monash in September was widely but not universally endorsed. There is a long tradition of campus activism at RMIT and the last year saw industrial action and court cases as staff and management slugged it out over pay and conditions. It looks like people at Monash have observed the arguments there because the MonashUniWatch  used RMIT examples to criticise Professor Gardner’s appointment, at length. Some criticism was robust and some mildly ridiculous – suggesting, for example she “has strong ties to the military” – as if  (if true), this is a bad thing. But some was just irrelevant, like mentioning Professor Gardner is married to University of Melbourne VC Glyn Davis, who the author(s) do not much like either. And this matters why? I’m guessing her personal life will have zero impact on her plans for Monash.

Terrific timing

Scott Bowman never stops selling the benefits of study at CQUniversity. Yesterday he was urging prospective students who did not win a scholarship “with the bigger universities” to have a look at his institution, which has $2.1m in aid available. Gosh, that wouldn’t have anything to do with Monday’s news that the University of Queensland mistakenly offered and then withdrew 400 scholarship offers would it?

Polite but cool

The other day I reported suggestions the Hobart based Antarctic research community was not best pleased with the way the much hyped expedition led by the University of New South Wale’s Chris Turney delayed its work, when Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy ground to a halt in the ice last month. You can certainly get that impression from a statement by Dr Tony Fleming, head of the (federal) Australian Antarctic Division yesterday. “The Antarctic Division would complete the annual resupply of Casey station which was interrupted when the Aurora Australis was tasked by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to go to the assistance of the stricken vessel some 800 nautical miles away. … This will include discharging the remaining cargo and loading material for return to Australia. It will unload about 500,000 litres of fuel and, if weather conditions permit, hopefully allow the completion of some programs interrupted when the ship was diverted on its rescue mission. … It has been a dynamic season and we have faced a range of challenges but have been able to complete a number of programs which is a credit to all involved.” Somehow I don’t think “we” includes Professor Turney and his team.