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Curtin University
Note to staff

3 April 2014


Centre for Crop and Disease Management

I am delighted to advise that the $100 million Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM) was launched at Curtin yesterday.

The Centre is the first bilateral research agreement between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and an Australian university. The Centre reflects Curtin’s long-term commitment to agriculture research in Western Australia.

The Hon Barnaby Joyce, Federal Minister for Agriculture made the announcement at our Bentley Campus, with the GRDC Chair Richard Clark and the Governor of Western Australia, His Excellency Malcolm McCusker also in attendance.

A key element of Curtin’s Strategic Plan is to conduct research with real-world relevance and the CCDM will certainly do this, concentrating on research and development to sustainably reduce the impact of grain disease and provide solutions to critical factors affecting farming business, including drought.

The announcement of the CCDM yesterday was a milestone for Curtin. I look forward to seeing this partnership with the GRDC continue to develop and I congratulate all involved for their work to establish this Centre.

Curtin’s Values and Signature Behaviours

I am pleased to announce that University Council has approved a revised set of Curtin’s Values that will now form the foundation upon which Curtin will build into the future. This represents the culmination of Phase I of the “Living our Values” initiative, during which we engaged extensively with a huge number of staff and students at a variety of events. This process led to the identification of a set of five values that resonate deeply with the Curtin community:

  • Integrity
    to act ethically, honestly and with fairness
  • Respect
    to listen, value and acknowledge
  • Courage
    to lead, take responsibility and question
  • Excellence
    to strive for excellence and distinction
  • Impact
    to empower, enable and inspire

Integrity must be at the core of our every activity and Respect should define every interaction between members of our University community. Our future will be secured if we have the Courage required to deliver our vision of Excellence in teaching and research.  In doing so we must always seek to deliver outcomes that have Impact, making a difference to others and so achieving our mission to change minds, lives and the world.

Living these values will enrich the Curtin experience for staff, students and our partners and will help to create the culture that delivers our 2030 vision.

We won’t always get it right but the real task begins now as we work together to build a culture in which our values are an intrinsic part of our daily lives at Curtin. For this reason we have also developed a series of Signature Behaviours (see link below) that represent how we might expect to see our values realised in everyday contexts. All members of the Senior Executive are committed to role-modelling these behaviours and if, at any time, you feel that our personal actions are inconsistent with the signature behaviours then please provide us with your feedback.

I acknowledge that the University is currently undergoing significant change and that this is a cause of ongoing concern for a number of staff and students.  While change can be difficult, I hope that the highly consultative way in which the revised values have been developed will build on Curtin at its best and leave the University stronger and better.

I was pleased to share my views about the importance of Curtin’s revised values at yesterday’s VC Forum and I encourage all staff who were not able to attend to view the iLecture. I welcome your comments on how we can work together to build a values-based culture.

Details of Curtin’s values and signature behaviours can be found here.

  1. Bonita Mason April 3, 2014 5:50pm

    Dear Vice Chancellor,
    I agree with the statement that, “Living these values will enrich the Curtin experience for staff, students and our partners …”, with a qualification. Given our experience over the past few years, optimism is difficult and I’d change ‘will’ in that statement to ‘would’.
    It is not the fact of the change that is the problem, but the manner of that change and its implementation, which has been too often been marred by disrespect, indifference, incompetence and unreasonableness.
    I look forward to seeing the newly adopted values in action.
    Best regards,

    Bonita Mason
    Journalism Lecturer

  2. Igor Bray April 4, 2014 10:31am

    I’m glad that I work at a university where academic staff have the courage to tell senior management that they are not happy with the way change is being implemented. I trust that such comments are being listened to and effective remedial action will be undertaken.

    I’d also like to take this opportunity to state how important it is that Reshaping and EQUIP result in major value-add activities for Curtin. I came here in 2007 during a period of considerable investment in research-intensive activity. At that time we were ranked around 13 of the Australian Universities. Today we are ranked around 17. Assuming that going backwards is not entirely my fault, it is clear that other universities have invested more heavily (or wiser) in their research activities.

    I see Curtin as a victim of its own success. Its growth in recent years rivals that of China (well almost). However, success is much more difficult to manage than failure. We need EQUIP to ensure that our organisational and management structures are much more efficient for the Curtin of today and that of the foreseeable future.

    As painful as Reshaping has been, particularly with questionable timing implementation, it is important that it results in a much more research-intensive institution. Currently, we punch way below our weight in this space.

    Lastly, I’d like to return to the Values initiative. I would like my academic freedom to be respected. I do not want senior management telling me how to teach, or insulting me and my predecessors with labels such as sage-on-the-stage or chalk-and-talk. I’d also like to be allowed to be a level one HDR supervisor again, without undertaking any of the suggested “professional development”. My track record in this space ought to speak for itself. The fact that joining an animal ethics committee would count as professional development, suitable to restore me to supervision in theoretical physics, is an embarrassment to us all.

  3. Graeme Wright April 8, 2014 4:16pm


    You raise a number of issues in your post, however I will only respond to the last one.

    I can confirm that you are still a Level 1 supervisor on the Register of Supervisors and therefore I encourage you to continue to supervise HDR students.

    The Register of Supervisors was set up in 2008 to facilitate recognition and development of staff who wished to supervise HDR students and to promote their expertise to potential students via the Curtin web site. Since then, Curtin has further matured as a research training institution and is currently in the process of reviewing and revising the Register of Supervisors Policy and Procedures. Specifically, we will be considering the following:
    • Eligibility criteria for registration, both at Level 1 and Level 2
    • Pathways from Level 2 to Level 1
    • De-registration processes
    • Supervisor development needs and registration renewal.

    The development component of the current registration requirement is designed to assist staff new to supervision and promote best practice rather than to tell experienced supervisors how to do their job. In fact, high quality and experienced supervisors have a lot to offer their less experienced colleagues. There are a range of development options that address the development criteria for the Register that assist even experienced supervisors to be more aware of the framework within which Curtin staff carry out supervision. The seminars also provide an opportunity for researchers to find out what is new in terms of scholarships, processes, opportunities etc. We often have both new and experienced supervisors together and its great if the latter can provide input to discussions, passing on their experience – the feedback they give us is useful too.

    We hope that you will see the seminars around Supervision as an opportunity to learn, network and give of your experience, not a chore or just a box to be ticked.

    I would be pleased to discuss the matter personally.

    Graeme Wright
    DVC R&D

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