Local heroes

“Well done to the ANU mixed volleyball team on winning a free pizza dinner courtesy of ANU Sport,” via Twitter yesterday

There’s more in the Mail

New in CMM today David Myton talks to former Brunel, Macquarie and Murdoch universities VC Steven Schwartz about recalibrating the moral compass of admissions to stop admitting students not capable of completing degrees. Plus a  wrap on the challenges facing regional and remote students.

On the money ball at James Cook U

James Cook U data scientists have worked how Olympic medal winning basketball teams do it. Anthony Leicht and Carl Woods, with Spanish colleague Miguel Gomez, analysed the 156 men’s basketball games played at last four Olympics. They find a combination of field goal percentage and defensive rebounds (sorry, no idea) provide the greatest probability of winning.

They are keen on game-plans by numbers at JCU. In June Dr Woods and colleagues reported that an analysis of 13 performance indicators in every game of the 2016 National Rugby League season identified the ones that won games, CMM June 23). Less money than mathsball.

No fuss no muss, a pay deal is done at ANU

There is a workplace deal at ANU with the National Tertiary Education Union telling members that an ‘in principle agreement’ is reached, with a final version to be ready for staff votes “in weeks or months.”

ANU workers will receive three 2 per cent pay rises, plus two $1800 payments between next month and July 2021. According to Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt and NTEU assistant national secretary Matthew McGowan, this translates to an average 9.1 per cent pay rise for academic staff and 10.6 per cent for professional staff. Fixed-term staff will also receive the same 17 per cent management superannuation contribution as continuing employees – which the union is pushing for across the country.

There were signs of a stoush a while back at ANU, with the union kicking-up over management plans to extend the span of the normal working day and for staff to have use their own leave over Christmas shutdown but the union says the bargaining team “fought off” management demands.

Following last week’s win at the University of Sydney, this is another achievement for the NTEU at a university where bargaining was long and difficult in the last round. As such it demonstrates the success of the union’s obvious intent to give managements no reason to follow Murdoch U’s strategy of using the Fair Work Commission to strip out prior agreement conditions in bargaining. There are now deals announced, or about to be at, CQU, Deakin, Edith Cowan, Curtin, UWA, UniSydney, UniAdelaide and now ANU.

Sweet trips thanks to Tilley

The 2017 winners of the Georgina Sweet award for women in quantitative biomedical science are; Alyssa Barry, Walter and Eliza Hall, Stephanie Gras, Monash University and Megan Maher, La Trobe University.

These aren’t ARC’s Georgina Sweet Laureate Fellowships, won this year by Michelle Coote from ANU, but they are connected. Professor Leann Tilley established these $25 000 travel awards as part of her 2015 ARC Laureate Fellowship.

Space strategy ready to launch

In the happiest of coincidences, the Australian Academy of Science had its “vision for space and technology” ready for launch yesterday, just two days after the government announced Australia will have a space agency to call our own.

The Academy’s vision sets out what Australian space science does and can do with the right sort of structure and, (naturally) “a degree of strategic funding.” Compulsory reading for Megan Clark’s working group which is tasked with preparing a charter for the National Australian Space Agency (which is what CMM thinks it should be called) by March.

Five ways to behave at UNSW

UNSW human resources VP David Ward sent a message to all staff yesterday reminding them of the importance of “the five behaviours” which “give us a common language for a problem solving, dynamic, tolerant and high achieving culture.” Mr Ward invites staff to nominate colleagues who are “role models of the behaviours” for the UNSW President’s Awards*.

“If we are to meet the ambitious goals of the 2025 Strategy, then how we do things is just as important as what we do. … This common language enables us to recognise the behaviours in ourselves and others that foster a positive work environment at UNSW,” he says.

The behaviours are; “demonstrates excellence, drives innovation, builds collaboration, embraces diversity and displays respect.” What they are and how people at different work-levels can display them is set out here.  These five behaviours should not be confused by the (other) five behaviours in Patrick Lencioni’s book on teamwork.

But not to worry if they are; as a learned reader points out “since when did university staff need to be told they should behave like respectful adults who believe in their work”.* And since when did the university’s CEO start being only a president and not vice chancellor.

Deep dive at ANU

ANU’s National Security College has A$500K from research funding Carnegie Corporation to consider how new submarine detection technology will change war fighting strategies as China, India, Pakistan and North Korea pursue sea-launched nuclear weapon capabilities.

The announcement came on the same day ANU’s Hugh White explained at length what is wrong with the timing of the government’s construction plan for new subs – which seems to be pretty much everything.

Audit Office tick for National Innovation and Science Agenda

The Australian National Audit Office report on the National Innovation and Science Agenda is out and it is pretty positive. This will be a relief to the agencies involved, the ANAO does not muck about when it finds fault, demonstrated by its excoriating analysis last Christmas of the VET FEE HELP disgrace. Overall, and with its standard careful qualifications, the Office reports NISA is not a bad bit of work, with “suitable”, “adequate,” “effective” popping up throughout. NISA is a bit of a grab-bag of programmes with not that much money attached ($1.1bn over four years) but it represents the PM’s belief in the transformative economic power of research – a tick, from the ANAO, however restrained, is a good result.

What a surprise

The Times Higher/Wall Street Journal US college ranking is out, and you will never guess, Harvard is number one.