UNE leadership silent on charges against VC Heywood

The council of University New England has not responded to increasing calls for Professor Heywood to stand down until her case is heard

The Daily Mail reports a police statement that it is alleged that Professor Heywood touched a girl and mentioned her skin colour at the Armidale Ex-Services Memorial Club on March 8. The club was the site of  an International Women’s Day Event that day.

The alleged incident has generated intense interest in the UNE community since March, with  rumours circulating on what happened and where.

Professor Heywood is scheduled to appear in court next month on assault charges and calls are increasing that she stand down until then.

Local NSW state Nationals MP Adam Marshall  was quick to urge the university council to stand Professor Heywood down. “As someone who has always proudly supported and defended the university, I implore the Council to move quickly in this direction,” he said.

Tim Crakanthorp (NSW shadow minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education) tweeted late Wednesday, “these are serious allegations and given their nature it’s appropriate that the vice chancellor step down pending their investigation.”

And yesterday the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union intervened, calling on UNE’s Council to stand the VC down “while the matters are before the court,” if she did not voluntarily step-aside.

“We were shocked by the charges; we are as astounded by the vice chancellor and council’s silence,” union campus VP Craig Johnson writes in a letter to council members.

“We now request that you, individually and collectively, take the only appropriate and responsible course and stand down Professor Heywood with immediate effect pending the outcome of matters before the courts.”

UNE has not commented on the case, or responded to CMM requests for information on important university business, notably the status of a new academic workload model – a matter central to Professor Heywood’s plans for the university. A Fair Work Commission hearing scheduled for today was vacated Thursday on a university motion.