He came, he took stock, he

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He came, he took stock, he Powered By Docstoc
                In the spotlight

                         e came, he took stock, he                                                exciting because just at the time we
                         consulted. And eventually                                                are formulating strategies and thinking
                         he instigated a series of                                                about new ways forward, there are
                subtle changes – a drop of oil                                                    new people in key roles and that will
                here, a replacement part there.                                                   give the team a tremendous amount
                    On 11 July, it was exactly a year                                             of energy. I have also introduced
                since Michael Spence became                                                       into my own team some critical
                Sydney’s 29th vice-chancellor.                                                    expertise in areas such as government
                The Spence era has been one of                                                    relations and policy advice.
                openness, the Vice-Chancellor
                records cheery video messages                                                     Are you happy with the progress we
                and staff are kept in touch with                                                  have made over the last year?
                tricky pay negotiations by email.                                                 I think we have made significant
                    It has also been an era of new                                                progress, but I am engaged in a
                ideas about management, with the                                                  major process of cultural transition
                unveiling of the Vice-Chancellor’s                                                and this place is an ocean liner.
                Workslate, a shake-up of senior                                                   Ocean liners don’t turn quickly.
                                                        internal decision making process
                executives and the creation of a
                                                        and bring greater coordination to
                specialist group of non-academic                                                  Is there anything you would
                                                        the activities of the University-wide
                advisors and strategists.                                                         have done differently?
                                                        portfolios. I have been encouraged
                    But how would the Vice-
                                                        by the great enthusiasm that there        In the best of all possible worlds
                Chancellor himself assess his first
                                                        is for addressing those problems.         we would have started the strategic
                year? Richard North asked him.
                                                                                                  conversation slightly sooner. I think
                                                        Has the role matched up to your           that with a new vice-chancellor
This place      What single moment have you
                                                        original expectations – has it been       there’s a sense of expectation,
                enjoyed most in the past year?
is an ocean     A couple of weeks ago I was
                                                        more enjoyable, more difficult?            and to have the agenda-setting
                                                                                                  conversation as soon as possible
liner. Ocean    explaining to some high school          It has been enormously enjoyable to
                                                                                                  would have been very desirable.
                students from Penrith why they          reconnect with my alma mater and to
liners don’t                                            help people think through what we
                should think about coming to                                                      How would you fill in your
turn quickly.   university and in particular the        need for the future. There have been
                                                                                                  own annual appraisal?
                University of Sydney. It made me        difficulties, of course, but people are
                                                        now talking to one another, and we        I want people to get the sense that
                realise how much I had learned
                                                        have a team that is working as a team.    I have spent a year thoroughly
                in a year about the fabulous work
                                                                                                  learning the business of the
                of the University across its 16
                                                        Where do we go from here – what is        University, establishing the fora for
                faculties, how proud I was of that
                                                        the next big issue on your agenda?        the conversations we need to have,
                work and how easily I was able
                                                                                                  and building a team at the centre
                to recommend what we do.                The next stage is to conduct a
                                                                                                  so we can have this big strategic
                                                        University-wide conversation
                                                                                                  conversation. I have some pretty clear
                How would you prefer to                 culminating in a Green Paper that will
                                                                                                  ideas about where the University
                describe yourself?                      be published in October. This will set
                                                                                                  should be going and I think I have
                As somebody who keeps an eye on         major strategic directions for the next
                                                                                                  been making them clear in various
                the whole landscape but is perfectly    period in the University’s life. Those
                                                                                                  ways over the last six months.
                willing to zoom in and roll up their    strategic directions will be focused on
                                                                                                      I am genuinely interested
                sleeves if there’s a particular job     positioning the University as a very
                                                                                                  in hearing what the University
                to be done or attention needs to        high-end internationally competitive      community has to say about the
                be paid to a particular issue.          research institution which we can         key challenges facing us. On
                                                        only justify if we are also showing       the administrative side I think
                What has surprised you most             that we are making a profound social      the University has excessive
                after coming back to Sydney?            contribution and are open to young        layers of bureaucracy because
                I found a place that in the last        Australians of promise whatever           of our multicentricity, and we
                decade had grown enormously, but        their social or cultural background.      need to do something about
                whose administrative structures and                                               streamlining and simplifying.
                decision making processes weren’t       Your leadership group is about                The University is academically
                always able to keep up with that        to change significantly. How will          and financially strong. The
                growth. So we have been trying          that affect the university?               question is how we more firmly
                over the past year with a measure       Yes, eight out of 16 new deans and        occupy the high-end position
                of success to create a more coherent    a new Provost…I think it’s very           that we need to occupy. SAM

                                                                                                                      SAM Spring 09       5

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