A month and a half into her tenure, UNE vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood already has plans to introduce new technologies and capabilities over the next decade to better serve the region.
"If we're going to be responsive to the demands of the business community, industry, and farmers, we need to offer a different spectrum of educational offerings," Professor Heywood said.
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She wants UNE to be a 'technology innovator' in making the state and Commonwealth's agrivet capabilities more productive.
The university will also develop a new $400 million STEM precinct to put the university at the cutting edge and share knowledge with industry. UNE is already designing a new STEM Discovery Centre at the disused Boilerhouse.
Professor Heywood also plans to introduce new disciplines and educational methodologies.
These include cybersecurity; using the Internet of Things to manage waste and sustainability, and renewable and natural resources more efficiently; music and music technology to build the community's creative dynamic; or offering law degrees in agribusiness for rural communities.
To benefit agriculture, Professor Heywood wants to make the SmartFarm a centre of excellence where farmers, agri-engineers, and agribusiness can share good practice, both domestically and through the university's international collaborations, such as the IndoBeef project launched last year.
More than 200 regional farmers also work with UNE through its genetics, breeding, and livestock enhancement programs.
Professor Heywood also intends to create a more adaptive and flexible workforce at UNE. Because many academics are elderly, some younger academics feel they must go elsewhere to advance their careers.
"Whereas we're part of an agenda which is about attracting talent, not losing talent!" she said.
The online giant Pinterest engaged the learning platform Udemy to provide 21,000 professional development opportunities for its workforce; Professor Heywood would like to do something similar here, to offer richer opportunities to her staff.
"In return, they would feel invested in, and invigorated to the mission of the university, and their contribution to a modern Australia," she said.
She also believes UNE should operate on an equitable balanced community model, to respect and value as rich a diversity of voices as the university can recruit and engage with - whether Indigenous, LGBTQI, or older people.
"The most powerful thing a vice-chancellor can do is not to be a voice on their own, but actually to be the person that encourages and nurtures the voices of others to be heard," Professor Heywood said.