In breaking news

Female golden snub-nosed monkeys share nursing of young,” UWA announcement yesterday.

Uni Melbourne in Federal Court case against head of school

The University of Melbourne and Jennifer Milam, art historian and head of its School of Culture and Communication, are in the Federal Court.

Professor Milam commenced the action earlier this month, claiming the university breached obligations to her under the Fair Work Act, relating to a misconduct investigation.

While no one is talking, the court record refers to Professor Milam raisingcertain governance matters in the Faculty of Arts” and the university conducting a preliminary inquiry, “into matters concerning the interaction between certain senior academic staff of the faculty.”

At the end of January, the university suspended Professor Milam, pending further investigation. She was directed to attend campus only to prepare for and teach classes.

Professor Milam argued that the university’s requirement she stay off campus would “substantially impede, if not render impossible” her leading a bid for an Australian Research Council centre.

She asked the court to restrain the university, which Justice Anastassiou agreed to, prior to the matter going to trial. He added that Professor Milam “is very likely to suffer significant harm to her reputation if her suspension is continued. In my view, such harm is not readily compensable by an award of damages.”

Professor Milam did not respond to a request for comment. A university spokesperson said, “it would be inappropriate for the university to comment on this matter while it is before the court.”

Exciting times

“This is an exciting time … our strategy will be flexible so it seamlessly aligns with the university’s evolving strategy. It will provide clarity and direction on the technologies required and will outline how our operating model will need to evolve in order to achieve our university’s outcomes and goals, “ University of Adelaide Chief Information Officer Bev Wright, change management proposal now circulating (story below).

“Earlier today the university experienced a significant outage that impacted most IT services, affecting those on-campus and also those working remotely. We were also unable to answer calls to the (Information Technology and Digital Services) services desk,” Ms Wright, message to the university community, yesterday.

ANU’s Grange is going

Chris Grange is leaving ANU. The well-respected chief operating officer will leave in September. This is a loss for the university. Mr Grange arrived from the University of Wollongong in 2013 and quickly got on top of a big restructure, involving contentious cuts. He did a solid job consulting and explaining and it set the tone for his tenure, efficient and expansively ambitious for ANU’s future.

Chris has been an outstanding COO. Tough when he needs to be, but always good-humoured, focused on outcomes and respectful of the cherished academic culture of ANU. I wish to thank Chris for the incredible contribution he has made to our university,”  Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt told staff yesterday.

This is the second big leadership loss at ANU in six months, with DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington announcing in October she was returning to being a history professor.

Another IT restructure at Uni Adelaide

IT at the University of Adelaide got $3m less in its budget than it asked for, so Information Technology and Digital Services proposes a restructure “to reduce our operating expenses.”  IT chief Bev Wright’s new plan comes a year after the previous new structure was introduced, “we now have a much clearer understanding of our current IT application landscape, pain points and the true cost of operating the branch,” she tells staff in a draft change proposal.

Ms Wright now proposes significant job changes and losses; she lists 116 continuing positions, 34 new roles and 30 jobs converted to continuing. However, 25 fixed-term positions will go, 20 are disestablished and 15 are subject “to a reduced number of roles process.”

She hopes to have the new structure in place by April but also commits to review it in fourth quarter, “to determine its effectiveness and, in particular, any impact to staff workload.”

Plibersek in class of her own on principal academy proposal

Labor’s Tanya Plibersek proposes a school principal academy, “not enough principals are receiving the specialist training they need,” the shadow education minister says, (CMM, yesterday).

Sounds sensible but it did not seem to be top of mind among the teacher education establishment, when CMM searched university submissions to the present House of Representatives committee inquiry on the status of the profession. And it could have, what with a term of reference for the committee including, “increasing the attractiveness of the profession for teachers and principals, including workplace conditions, and career and leadership structures.”

Some submissions to the committee recognise the broad issue. “Career pathways be more explicitly presented through recognised and certified professional development linked to university qualifications, and teachers encouraged and supported in attaining their career aspirations,” Charles Darwin U suggests.

The University of Melbourne recommends, “developing and resourcing processes to identify readiness for leadership roles associated with teachers, middle leaders, senior leaders and principals.”

But that is about it, with no specific proposals  found for a formal body to train principals. But there is one submission which comes closest in calling for resources. “A greater national focus and investment is required to address issues specific to school leaders such as preparation, workload and health and wellbeing, thereby supporting the development of a skilled, effective principal workforce pipeline, the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training argues.

CMM suspects officials will have a brief ready to go if Ms Plibersek is their minister after the election.

Local heroes in regional ranking

Times Higher Education has released its 2019 Asia-Pacific university ranking, with results pretty much in the same order as the global one. Tsinghua University in China moves up one position to be first in the region (22 in the world), replacing the National University of Singapore which drops to two in the region and 23 on the big-list.

The top Australian ten in the Asia-Pacific are Uni Melbourne (3, on the regional list, up one place and equal 32 in the word), ANU (8,unchanged and 49), Uni Sydney (11, unchanged and =59), Uni Queensland (12, down 3 and 69), Monash U (15, down 2, =84), UNSW (=19, down 4 and =96), Uni Adelaide (23, down 1 and =135), UWA ( 24, down 5, 134), UTS (29, up 2, 196) and QUT (33, down 2, 201-250 band).

THE says the ranking uses “the same performance indicators” as the global list, with weightings “adjusted to reflect the younger profile of some of the universities in the region.”



Appointments, achievements of the week

The University of Sydney’s Nalini Joshi is elected one of two vice presidents of the International Mathematical Union for 2019-2022.

Curtin U has awarded an hon doc to edX founder Anant Agarwal. The university presents a range of MOOCs via edX.

Ian Martinus will lead Edith Cowan U’s “industry engagement efforts in cyber security.”  He has doctorate in information systems from ECU.

The government has appointed members of the Australian Research Council’s advisory panel to review how the ARC applies the national research prioritiesSue Thomas, ARC. Deborah Terry, Curtin U. David Lloyd, Uni South Australia. Kevin Hall, Uni Newcastle, Duncan Ivison, Uni Sydney. Lynley Marshall, Museums Victoria. Mark McKenzie, Council of Small Business Australia. Cindy Shannon, QUT. Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, NHMRC chair Anne Kelso and DET secretary Michele Bruniges are additional expert members.

Sally Kift is the 2019 visiting professorial fellow at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.