A fresh start

A message from Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Julie Cogin:

I’ve spent my first six or so weeks at ACU visiting several campuses and engaging with many of ACU’s schools, faculties, directorates, and institutes. Each group have presented me with their achievements and areas of focus, and I have been so impressed by the impact our people make to finding solutions for global challenges and contributing to communities both local and abroad. Equally impressive is everyone’s generosity in sharing their work, and the pride in their accomplishments is evident.

Last week in Melbourne, I started regular yarning circles with the professoriate of the university who offered a number of ideas to better support staff and suggestions for improving our academic mission. Our professoriate are wonderful people, all pursing excellence in different ways, and I am keen to hear more from.

This sentiment was also echoed by special guest alumna Ms Tara Croker who joined us earlier in the month at the ACU International Women’s Day event. Sharing insights from her entrepreneurial journey, Tara reflected on her time at the ACU Brisbane campus and connections forged with the Weemala unit when she was a student.

Tara credited her ongoing business successes with making sure her values, culture and business were aligned, emphasising that you never know where connections will lead you. She commended the personal interactions with academics who knew her name, checked-in with care and feeling like she was more than just another number in the crowd. I may be new(ish), but I can relate!

Learning of your work across the different groups I’ve spent time with, it’s been inspiring to see and hear of the impact which your work and priorities has had in the communities in which we serve. In line with the focus on women this month, I’d particularly like to highlight some of the standout work of a few ACU researchers:

Laureate Professor Anne Castles of the Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy is doing a landmark study investigating adolescent illiteracy in a bid to create targeted assessment tools and resources for teachers to identify and support those with literacy challenges.

Dr Mellita Jones recently concluded her research project to create an inclusive education program for deaf and hearing people in Solomon Islands. The program taught AUSLAN to more than 700 people in remote villages in Solomon Islands, and 38 of these people received a Certificate of Teaching and Learning (Sign Language) from ACU.

Professor Elspeth Froude and Adjunct Professor Sara Bayes are supporting the needs of a remote hospital in Tanzania which provides maternal care. Premature death of babies and mothers is a leading cause of death in Tanzania and the aim of their work is to empower the hospital, which has no internet access and requires hours-long commutes, mostly by motorbike.

Dr Gabriella Munteanu is researching how the menstrual cycle might affect exercise performance and adaptive responses to resistance training. In the long term, the project will provide insights on whether modifying training according to menstrual cycle phase or symptoms can improve physical performance, and will be the first-ever to assess whether these methods of training prescription can be of benefit.

Dr Shannon Dodd’s recent research has focused on the impact of enhanced compassion in judicial sentencing remarks on public punitiveness and criminal justice spending preferences, and the imprisonment of people with disability.

I’ll also take this opportunity to draw your attention to the upcoming Professorial Lecture Series which you’ll soon be invited to attend. I’ll be facilitating several events and I'm excited to showcase our talented colleagues and their work. This series is a fantastic opportunity to hear from and engage with our own leading academics, who were recently promoted. Please keep an eye out for the invitations and make sure to attend at a campus near you or online where possible.

Being welcomed with such open minds and hearts confirms for me that I’ve landed in the right place as I see a warmth and culture of deep caring reflected across all personal interactions.

As I continue to make my way around campuses over coming weeks and months, please reach out and say hi if you see me around.

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