The importance of future-proofing our university

A message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Innovation) Professor Zlatko Skrbis.

Dear colleagues,

The natural disasters and Coronavirus outbreak of the past months have been tragic. Calamities have the power to shatter individual lives, community bonds and institutions. If you have been personally affected by these events, I extend my sympathies and I trust you’ve found support.

Major stressors such as these are also opportunities to build resilience, hope and community. At an institutional level, they highlight the importance of future-proofing our university. The Education and Innovation Portfolio’s priority areas for 2020 seek to build this long-term strength.

Our areas of focus include:

  • Enhancing our discipline and course offerings, delivery formats/modes and digital technologies to expand our educational footprint and support ACU’s growth.
  • Improving retention and remediation strategies by enhancing courses with a high attrition volume and acting on valuable insights from the User Experience Project, which has engaged more than 1,000 students to date.
  • The transfer of international and postgraduate strategy responsibilities to the portfolio, to create connectivity and allow us to take a more holistic approach to education, student experience, and course and academic innovation.
  • Assessing academic life at ACU and taking steps to support scholarship and a rich intellectual life, and to enable a teaching-research nexus for a modern, forward-looking, globally relevant, engaged and mission-focused academic culture. 

ACU is on a transformative journey. We’re increasing our attention to the services and support mechanisms that foster a supportive, enabling, enriching learning environment. This will require an exciting amount of cross-portfolio and cross-institutional collaboration, a preparedness to converse with our student body and among ourselves, and a readiness to listen and respond constructively.

It will be challenging. But I cannot imagine the university’s innovation agenda to be possible without our willingness to engage in a multitude of dialogues. The lens with which we see ourselves and our future needs sharpening, and a dialogical community has a key role to play.

To help cultivate this openness, Campus Ministry has launched an initiative called Hopeful Research: Dialogue for Change. This bi-monthly campus conversation on social issues is a forum for academics to share their latest research from their different disciplines. I encourage you to gather, collaborate, learn, and support the work of your colleagues.

Prestigious external scholarships

Another initiative I wish to draw your attention to is our promotion of several prestigious external scholarships in 2020. Our aim is to raise awareness among ACU’s best and brightest students of scholarships such as John Monash, Fulbright, Westpac Future Leaders, Rhodes and Schwarzman.

ACU’s supportive approach to learning targets those who pathway in, yet we must never forget the students who are educationally outstanding. Our challenge, and our privilege, is to meet the needs of students across the spectrum.

I encourage faculty staff to promote these life changing opportunities, approach students who may be eligible, and invite them to email the Office of Student Success for more information.

Best wishes,

Professor Zlatko Skrbis
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Innovation)

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