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Strength of commitment to UTAS

I write in the midst of a whirlwind first few weeks, dominated by trips around the state and country to learn about our University.

First impressions are important, and I am delighted with both what I have found and the warmth with which I have been welcomed.

Beyond the stunning beauty of our natural setting it is the people who have made greatest impact. There is a special relationship between UTAS and Tasmanians that is deeper and richer than for other universities I have known. It is, of course, partly a consequence of being the only university in the State. But it is also because the activities of the University touch on just about every aspect of life in Tasmania. So many have some connection to the University – as students, staff, alumni and friends, as members of the community who benefit from our research, as workers who benefit from the economic activity that we bring to the state. Their obvious pride and affection for UTAS provide an exceptional foundation for a prosperous future.

It is those strong links and connections that I will be bearing in mind as the University embarks on a year of setting a new strategic agenda. This will draw on the obvious strengths of the existing strategic plan but position the University for the next three to five years in a highly dynamic higher education environment, in which we can expect to see increased competition for students and research funding.

I hope that our strategic planning can take the form of a conversation that includes not only staff but students and members of the broader community. Some of the aspects that we will need to consider are already evident. Education and research are increasingly global in nature. We must build upon our firm local foundations to identify our place in the national and international context. In an increasingly competitive environment this will require us to know ourselves. Where are we distinctive and special? Where do we have opportunities that others may struggle to realise? What do we have to offer students, researchers and the broader community that will bring the world to us and us to the world?

It is a wonderful thing to be able to take charge of your own future, and our new strategic plan gives us the opportunity to do just that. We build with confidence on a strong base. In this respect I would like to thank Professors Daryl Le Grew and David Rich for their stewardship of the University through the often tumultuous recent years, which has seen such change in our sector.

I will, in the next few weeks, provide advice about how you can engage in our strategic planning and inject your ideas for our future. In the meantime, please feel free to make contact with me at

Published on: 19 May 2011 9:57am