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Curtin University
Note to staff

2 April 2015


Future directions of the Living Our Values program

The Living Our Values program was designed to create a strong and cohesive values-based culture at Curtin.  Since becoming the program’s sponsor, I have undertaken a comprehensive review of its effectiveness to ensure that the program is addressing the core need to strengthen our culture.

The most significant source of feedback used was the 2014 Your Voice Survey results.  I have reviewed the quantitative results and have read all comments.  In relation to the Living Our Values program, I have taken particular note of responses to the open-ended question: “Give examples of what the Living Our Values initiative has done or could do to improve your experience”.

The Your Voice results show that while the values are well understood and supported, they are not necessarily being reflected in our lived experience of working at Curtin.  The compelling message in the feedback is that we must act to genuinely address the concerns that staff have about Curtin’s underlying culture.

While the focus of the program in building a values-based culture is still important, my view is that we need to broaden the remit of the program in order to strengthen our culture, improve the lived experience of staff, and build a sense of belonging and commitment to the Curtin community.  The Living Our Values Reference Group has endorsed this broadening of the project’s scope, and will be working to identify actions to address these goals and to help focus our responses to the Your Voice results.

Key areas for improvement will be leadership, engagement and staff wellness.  An early area of focus for the revised program will be participatory approaches to decision-making and managing change.  Strengthening leadership at all levels, building practical skills to better manage behaviour, and performance are also priorities, as is the finalisation of our “People and Culture” Plan.

While the Senior Executive and I have already received valuable feedback through the Your Voice Survey, I would like to keep the lines of communication open in order to hear any further comments or suggestions that staff have in relation to how we work, together, to strengthen our culture and the working environment for staff.  I would welcome any suggestions through the mailbox:

Two new John Curtin Distinguished Professors

The title of John Curtin Distinguished Professor is the highest honour the University awards to its academic staff.  It recognises those with exceptional teaching or research skills, or scholarly, creative and artistic achievements; a significant record of public service; and an established national or international reputation.

The title was introduced in 2005 and has since been awarded to 27 exceptional staff members. Last week we celebrated the inclusion of two new leading academics to this esteemed group – Professor Dawn Bennett from Humanities and Professor Leon Straker from Health Sciences. Congratulations to them both.

D Profs 2015

Professors Straker and Bennett with the Chancellor and myself at the John Curtin Distinguished Professors dinner

Senator Carr visits Curtin

Professor Graeme Wright, Charlie Thorn and myself were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Senator Kim Carr, Opposition Spokesman for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Industry at Curtin this week.

Senator Carr was at the University to visit the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) and to discuss the latest research on student equity and retention and the implications of this research for future policy directions. He acknowledged the importance of the work of the NCSEHE, and was particularly interested in a project currently being undertaken with the Federal Department of Education and Training to develop a more comprehensive means of measuring and monitoring the equity performance of the higher education sector.

The Centre has been awarded funding totalling $1.72 million under the National Priorities Pool, which is a component of the Higher Education Participation Programme (HEPP).  The Pool provides funding to universities to support and improve participation and success in higher education by people from low socio-economic status backgrounds. It supports projects that develop evidence, trial innovative ideas, build capacity and reform systems to maximise opportunity and outcomes for low SES groups in higher education.

NCSEHE Director Professor Sue Trinidad and her team are to be commended for their success in securing funding for this important purpose.

Campus display of artwork

Displaying works of art throughout the campus adds to its ambiance and the enjoyment people take in their work.  Curtin is unique among WA universities in that we encourage access to the University Art Collection by involving our staff in the management of the public display of artworks.

I am delighted to be able to advise that this Campus Display process managed by the John Curtin Gallery is being expanded.  Artwork will now be able to be displayed in appropriate areas of the Bentley campus and Technology Park free of charge.

To find out more or to request artwork for your work area, please go to the online form.  Staff members already loaning artwork are asked to wait until the current contract is up for renewal before contacting the Gallery.

U-Multirank 2015

Curtin has been featured on the U-Multirank 2015 achieving strong results in measures such as research publications, international joint publications, regional joint publications, citation rate and top cited publications.

U-Multirank is designed to provide a multidimensional view of universities.  Its website allows users to access a wealth of information that they can filter through for comparisons of ‘like with like’ universities.  There were 27 Australian universities included this year, joining more than 1,200 worldwide.

U-Multirank is a European Union project and is not as well known in Australia as some other university rankings.  It does not order universities in the ‘top 400’ or similar lists, differentiating it from most other league tables including the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

More information is available on the Strategy and Planning blog.

ANZAC mural


Chris Loudon of the WA Genealogical Society and John Curtin Gallery Director Chris Malcolm in front of the photographic mural

As part of Curtin’s ANZAC commemorations, the John Curtin Gallery has installed a large scale photographic mural showing members of the 11th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force on the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Giza.  The original photograph was taken in early 1915, shortly before they went to Gallipoli.

Many of you will have seen this iconic image before, but the size of mural makes it possible to see individual faces and this has a strong emotional impact, especially as over half of the men did not survive the war.

The Gallery is working with the Western Australian Genealogical Society to identify the individuals depicted in the photograph, and an honour roll will be installed before the Together, 100 years apart exhibition opens on 23 April.  However, staff are welcome to visit the Gallery now to see the mural.

Information about the full range of Curtin’s ANZAC activities will be included in a future Note to Staff.

Student success

In the recent International Mining Games, the WASM Wombats Men’s A Team won the overall Men’s Division title, with the WASM Wallabies Men’s A Team coming in a close second. The WASM Wombats Women’s Team took second place overall in their division.  You can see a news report on the Games here. The students involved were:

  • WASM Wombats Men’s A (1st place): Jake Rovacsek (captain), Scott Berry, Ryan Walker, Robert Kinna, Trent Neill, Toben Clements.
  • WASM Wallabies Men (2nd place): Cale Murphy (captain), Justin Illich, Jamie Porter, Daniel Lindsey, Nick Reid, Jarrad Forward
  • WASM Wombats Women (2nd place): Jessie Cooke (captain), Daniella Jaen Sevilla, Jessie Huang, Bukayo Taiwo, Ashlee Edwards, Lynn Gong
  • WASM Wombats Coed: Emma Trypuza (captain), Adam Berry, Kim Bayley, Eliza Jagusiak, Patrick Eisenlohr, Don Tantono.

A student team from the Department of Construction Management has been short-listed for the final round of the CIOB Global Student Challenge, an international construction business challenge which aims to identify and shape the construction leaders of tomorrow.   Curtin’s ‘Mighty Ducts’ team is currently ranked second out of 38 teams and will travel to Hong Kong in July for the final part of this competition. The students involved are Joshua Mewburn, Qace Al-Asadi, Adam Salter and Ivan Cowen.

Two Curtin students who represented Western Australia at this year’s National Rowing Championships took home silver medals. Sam Marsh won his medal as part of the Under 23 Men’s Eight crew and performed well in other events, whereas Cameron Fowler won an impressive four silver medals.

Congratulations to all of these students on their achievements.

Important cultural festivals

There are important Christian and Jewish holy days in early April.  For Christians, Easter is the time to remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, while for those of a Jewish faith Passover commemorates the story of Exodus in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

The ancient festival of Baisakhi, also known as Vaisakhi, falls on 14 April and marks the beginning of a new solar year and harvest season.  Baisakhi marks the founding of the Khalsa in the 17th century, which is the collective body of all baptised Sikhs.

I wish those who are celebrating these festivals a joyous time, and hope that all staff enjoy a peaceful and restorative break with family and friends.

  1. Melissa Davis April 2, 2015 6:09pm

    Thank you Vice Chancellor for your inclusive recognition of the variety of cultural festivals that staff, students, and their families may be celebrating. I am proud to be part of an organisation whose leader demonstrates this kind of respect to their community. I hope that you and your family too have a safe and relaxing break.
    Kind regards

  2. Alison Kelly April 2, 2015 9:14pm

    Congratulations to Professor Dawn Bennett, who is extremely generous with her support of other staff at Curtin. So pleased to see she is recognised as a John Curtin Distinguished Professor. Wonderful news!

  3. John Mamo April 3, 2015 1:34pm

    Thank you Vice Chancellor for the enhanced engagement and your proactive approach to enhancing culture and wellness. Positive outcomes are already being realised.
    Congratulations to the John Curtin Distinguished Professors. Great exemplars of Academic excellence.
    I am also delighted to read of the ANZAC celebrations. The enlarged mural is a wonderful concept a truly iconic image. My understanding is that one soldier in the photograph had passed and was supported by his ‘mates’ when the photo was taken.
    Kind regards

  4. Deborah Terry April 7, 2015 2:37pm

    Thank you Melissa, Alison and John for your comments.

    Given the diversity of our staff and student community, I am very pleased to be able to recognise as many major cultural festivals and events as possible. If I miss any, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

    I agree – both Dawn Bennett and Leon Straker are very worthy John Curtin Distinguished Professors. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate their achievements last week.

    John – your additional note on the ANZAC mural adds even more to the very powerful emotions that it evokes. Thank you for your comment on the culture and wellness focus. I was very pleased to hear that positive outcomes are already being experienced.

    with best wishes


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