After two years as deputy vice-chancellor at the University of New England (UNE), Professor Todd Walker will leave next month to prepare for his next role - vice-chancellor at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland (UHI).
"It's a natural next step for me to go into a vice-chancellor role," Professor Walker said.
"I think I'm ready to make the transition and learn. Rarely in these jobs do you get the opportunity to have some overseas experience - you tend to get specialised in higher education and trundle along doing the same thing. So when UHI reached out to me through their recruitment firm I thought - this will be great.
"And you know, at this stage of my career it is just what I need to reinvigorate.
"It's been a tough year in higher education."
Professor Walker said he had a long association with the UHI in his previous role as deputy vice-chancellor of engagement at Federation University.
"I have visited them twice, hosted their senior team as a delegation to FedUni, and developed a transnational MBA International with them," he said.
"I leave the university on good terms and will always be thankful for my time at UNE."
Having oversight of all of the academic issues, and developing the faculties and the schools, was the most fulfilling aspect of his time at UNE Professor Walker says.
"Being chair of UNE Partnerships was quite satisfying as well, and developing our international profile when I set up the UNE teaching centre in Malaysia," he said.
"I think those three things are the highlights for me."
Professor Walker will move to Inverness, on Scotland's north-east coast, with his wife in January for a February 1 start, and his two adult children will visit when (and if ) COVID-19 restrictions allow.
"Getting an exemption to leave the country shouldn't be a problem but finding a flight might," he said.
Born in the United Kingdom, Professor Walker emigrated to Queensland with his parents when he was a child. He is looking forward to living and working in the largest city and cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands, and says there is a sense of romanticism and nostalgia about the move.
"The UHI has about 46,000 students and is a multi-campus university that has 13 campuses which I will have to get around to," Professor Walker said.
"So the opportunity to travel around those campuses in the highlands is one of the things I'm looking forward to.
"People go for holidays in these places and this will be my work."
Both UHI and UNE operate with distance learning in mind, and both offer online learning to their students.
"About 80 percent of UHI courses are delivered online," Professor Walker said.
"Where UHI is different to UNE is that they are an integrated dual-sector university - they have both vocational (skills-based) and higher education (academic-based) learning in the one institution - and I bring that experience from my previous employer Federation University."
For more than two decades, Professor Walker has worked in regional multi-campus Australian universities.
He is an accomplished clinical cytologist with strong teaching, research and consultancy credentials. He has a degree in medical biotechnology, a PhD in molecular oncology and a graduate certificate in university leadership and management, all from Charles Sturt University.
Professor Walker is also a National White Ribbon Ambassador and is considering continuing his involvement with the anti-gender-based violence movement after his relocation.
"It is something I am passionate about, and someone at UHI recently reached out to me about that, and I will explore this more when I am over there," he said.
"I don't know much about gender-based violence issues in Scotland but, having been a White Ribbon ambassador, I imagine they are pretty similar to here.
"I am reluctant to make a firm commitment to the program with UHI before taking up the post - but in principle, I agree and support programs that bring awareness to gender-based violence."
Professor Walker joined UNE in January 2018 to lead the academic, quality and indigenous portfolios and vice-chancellor and CEO Professor Brigid Heywood said he made significant contribution to UNE over the past three years.
"He oversaw the implementation of the faculty restructure in 2018, the establishment of UNE Study Centre in Malaysia and led the academic bargaining negotiations," she said.
"Professor Walker has also managed and provided support to several key UNE initiatives, including academic promotions and the special studies program, and has been instrumental in developing UNE Partnerships.
"On behalf of UNE, I would like to thank Professor Walker for his service to the University and wish him the best with his new role."
The vacancy left by his departure will be filled according to the UNE's normal recruitment processes Professor Heywood said.
"Taking into account feedback received during the consultation period associated with the proposed 'Time for Change'organisational programme," she said.