Division of the Provost

The Role of the Professor at UTAS

In November 2012, the Academic Senate endorsed a statement on the role of the Professor at UTAS. This statement follows and can be downloaded here (MS Word 16KB):

A Professor is expected to exercise a special responsibility in providing leadership and in fostering excellence in research and scholarship, learning and teaching, service to and leadership of the discipline, community and/or industry, and service to and leadership of the University. The role of a Professor at the University of Tasmania may be expressed as follows:

  1. Research and scholarship Professors provide leadership in their research discipline within a national and international context. Professors foster the research and scholarship of other individuals and groups within their School, within their discipline grouping and within related disciplines. The manner in which Professors carry out these roles will be in accordance with the axiological norms in practice within their discipline. In many disciplines, where research environments are dependent on the ability to attract external funds, Professors secure substantial grants which support teams including junior staff, postgraduate and honours students. In other disciplines, Professors conduct research and scholarship with a more independent tenor. In all disciplines, Professors place great importance upon guiding and assisting more junior staff in developing their capacity for teaching and research, and in more generally developing the careers of these junior staff. As part of this role, Professors introduce research students and colleagues to useful networks inside and outside the University.
  2. Learning and teaching Professors seek continuing improvement in academic standards rather than merely maintaining them, and make a distinguished contribution to teaching in the University. A Professor provides leadership in curriculum development, design of courses, and innovations in the delivery of teaching in the discipline, taking account of national and international developments. At different stages of their career, Professors carry a teaching load, are involved in some of the large classes and teach not only postgraduate students but also undergraduate (including first year) students. Professors are role models in their relationships with students and with professional staff at all levels, and foster collegiality within the University. They are accessible in the School/Faculty/Institute and take part in the community life of the University, including ceremonies where degrees are awarded to students of the School and to persons honoured by the University.
  3. Contribution to discipline Professors play a significant part in shaping their discipline or sub-discipline in the national and international academic community, and lead its development in the University. As a result, Professors participate in the appropriate national and international organisations of their discipline or profession, including relevant industry bodies and associations. In most fields, such international involvement and standing should be clearly evident. A Professor will serve on expert committees, be willing to participate in reviews and to work at a national and international level.
  4. Contribution to community Professors have a responsibility to engage with the community and to advance the image and reputation of the University locally, nationally and internationally. That image will be enhanced by excellent research and teaching, the receipt of awards and participation in major conferences. Community involvement might also be demonstrated through a role as a public intellectual who contributes to the nation's culture and institutions. This might take many forms, including media commentary and the preparation of opinion articles, speaking at public events, and visits to schools and other community organisations. Further community engagement might include giving talks to community groups, taking a constructive and informed part in debate on matters of concern to the community, engagement with local and international industry or business activities, and engagement with local and state governments.
  5. Contribution to University leadership Professors contribute to policy formation and management of their School, their Faculty or Institute, and the University (through Academic Senate) where from time to time they have a contribution to make. Professors help foster constructive intellectual debate, seek to uphold and model the UTAS Values, and help to advance the UTAS goals and vision. They play a constructive role in appointment, confirmation and promotion processes for academic and professional staff. Professors from time to time will take on senior executive roles in the University, Faculty/Institute and/or School.

A Professor at UTAS will not be expected to maintain leadership in all of the above areas at once, but over time it is expected that significant contributions will be made to each of the activities shown. As is appropriate to their title and level, Associate Professors will be expected to make substantive contributions to a similar range of activities.

(This statement has been adapted from similar statements by the University of Western Australia and the University of Melbourne about the expectations of professors. It was endorsed by the Academic Senate in November 2012).