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Curtin University
Note to staff

3 August 2015


What a weekend!

Last weekend was a notable one for Curtin, with Open Day and the WAIT reunion coinciding.  It proved to be a wonderful celebration of both the past and present, from the gala reunion dinner on Friday night to the close of Open Day on Sunday.

The dinner was a great success, with 250 people attending and a real sense of warmth in the room both for former classmates and for WAIT and the university it has become. Our keynote speaker and alumna Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi was very engaging, and clearly remembers her time at WAIT fondly and as a starting point for the career she has forged. The dinner was also an opportunity to launch the WAIT Scholarships Fund, and we hope many of our graduates from that era will consider giving their support to this fund.

The WAIT events on Open Day were well attended and many alumni stayed on campus all day, enjoying the activities and exploring the campus for the first time in years. The weekend was the beginning of a strategy to reconnect with this important group of stakeholders and more engagement is planned. I would like to thank all those involved in organising the reunion activities for their great work.

Open Day itself was another outstanding achievement, with a record 23 000 visitors attending. I really enjoyed walking around the campus and interacting with staff and visitors, and was very impressed at the number and diversity of activities on offer. Successfully staging such a multifaceted event is a major undertaking, and I would like to thank and acknowledge everyone involved for their contribution and commitment to Curtin. I hope you will all attend the ‘thank you breakfast’ on Friday at the Main Cafe as I am keen to hear about your Open Day experiences. You can register for the breakfast by emailing by 4 August 2015.

New professional staff awards

I am very pleased to announce the introduction of the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards for Professional Staff. These awards have been created to recognise the significant contribution that professional staff make towards the achievement of our goals in all areas, and will complement the existing Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Research and Teaching.

Nominations for the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards for Professional Staff are now open until 11 September. I hope you will consider nominating your colleagues (teams or individuals) or yourself in the following categories:

• Excellence in Engagement
• Excellence in Leadership
• Excellence in Innovation
• Excellence in Service.

Successful awardees will have the opportunity to pursue personal or career development (including conference travel and attendance).

More information about the awards can be found online.

Curtin University in NASA’s orbit

Curtin has become the first university to sign an Affiliate Member statement with NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). The successful Curtin proposal was led by Professor Phil Bland of the Department of Applied Geology at the Curtin WA School of Mines, and the agreement was signed in the United States last week.

The proposal submitted by Professor Bland included colleagues from a number of institutions across the country and represented a wide breadth of expertise from Australia’s planetary science community. The proposal was selected for Affiliate Membership after it was determined that the research activities will help NASA achieve its goals for human exploration of the solar system.

This is a significant achievement for Curtin and Australia, and the link with NASA is a fantastic opportunity for our staff and students to engage with the global leader for space exploration.

Congratulations to Professor Bland and his colleagues.

Curtin tribology professor awarded world’s highest honour

Professor Gwidon Stachowiak of the Department of Mechanical Engineering has been awarded the prestigious UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers Tribology Gold Medal, an internationally acclaimed tribology award.

Tribology, the study of friction, wear and lubrication, plays an important role in the development of a wide range of technological advancements including high-speed trains, aircraft, space stations, computer hard discs and artificial implants.

Professor Stachowiak is the first Australian to receive the award, and the first recipient from the southern hemisphere in its 43 year history.

I am sure all staff will join me in congratulating him on this prestigious honour. You can read more about his achievement online.

Strengthening our culture

Culture reps

With the Culture Representatives

I recently attended a morning tea with Curtin’s Culture Representatives (previously known as Values Advocates) as part of the Strengthening our culture program.

The ‘Culture Reps’ play a vital role in supporting the ongoing development of our desired culture through their understanding of the Strengthening our culture program, their willingness to engage with and support colleagues, and by acting as role models for our values and signature behaviours. More specific information on their role and on the program is available online.

You are welcome to contact the Reps with any queries or suggestions you may have regarding the program, and I would like to thank them all for their commitment to helping improve the lived experience of our staff.

Recognising long serving staff

On Thursday we recognised a number of staff who have been at Curtin 20, 30 or 40 years. It was a heart-warming and enjoyable event. I was very pleased to be able to thank this group of long serving staff for their part in making us such a strong and successful institution.

Those who were celebrating 20 years of service received a special lapel pin designed by Curtin graduate and staff member Barbara Cotter, while those celebrating 30 and 40 years with the University were presented with a gold watch. All attendees received a copy of the recent Curtin history, Look Ever Forward: A History of Curtin University 1987-2012. Those unable to attend on the day will be provided with their gift and a letter recognising their contribution to the University at a later date.

At the presentation with Michael Stack, who has been with Curtin for 40 years

At the presentation with Michael Stack, who has been with Curtin for 40 years

  1. Mattie Turnbull August 3, 2015 5:10pm

    Just wondering if the criteria for awards for ‘long service’ are restricted to those who have been employed on a ‘continuing’ basis for those periods of time?

    • Caroline Duncan August 4, 2015 9:45am

      Hello Mattie. To answer your query, the criteria for the service awards is based on continuous service in a fixed-term or permanent position, with allowance for a break in service of up to 8 weeks. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss further.

  2. Mary Simpson August 4, 2015 8:24am

    I have been a continuing staff member since 1974 and was wondering if I may have missed the notice inviting me?

  3. Michael Ingram August 4, 2015 9:33am

    Congrats to the Open Day crew and all Curtin volunteers for a record 23,000 and for organising such great weather! – from all of us at Curtin Business School International Twitter: @mingram11

  4. Ann Paterson August 4, 2015 11:52am

    Hi Mary

    Human Resources are looking into this and will be in touch with you directly.


  5. 238730i August 4, 2015 12:28pm

    It may be useful to consider having an additional “preventive” element to Curtin’s “strengthening our culture” initiative. That “preventive” measure is best implemented at the recruitment stage where the use of psychometric and psychological tests will help minimise the entry of employees who hold personal views and dispositions, whether overt or closeted, which are not in sync with the culture and values espoused by the University. Such tests are admittedly more time consuming, tedious and expensive but would nevertheless, benefit Curtin in the long run.

    • Paul Costantino August 5, 2015 2:09pm

      See my reply to this below.

  6. Paul Costantino August 5, 2015 2:07pm

    I am not sure whether to take this post seriously or not. I certainly hope that Curtin does not start to implement anything like this in their staff recruitment processes. Such tools are open to abuse. Of course the irony here is that anyone who has a decent moral compass would be following the Curtin Values and such abuse should be impossible. However, back in the real world, and in the context being advocated, it sounds like such screening tests could be used to essentially ‘select’ potential staff members based on their submissiveness or willingness to tow the line. Sounds like George Orwell’s ‘1984’.

    Really, how much thought control is enough? Already freedom of speech is under attack by the imposition of a set of ideological moral do’s and don’ts.

    Be very careful what you wish for.

  7. 238730i August 10, 2015 9:38am

    Hi Paul,

    With or without psychometric or psychological tests, the potential for abuse and selection based on “submissiveness or willingness to tow the line” will be, and is already present in Curtin’s recruitment processes (or in any recruitment processes for that matter).

    Unless there is a dispute over whether Curtin’s “values” are acceptable, the issue is not about thought control or freedom of speech. It’s about whether actions taken in “strengthening our culture” should remain “reactive”, or can be improved upon by injecting a “preventive” element to it.

    Based on the results of “Your Voice” surveys over the years (and my personal experiences and observations working in Curtin), I believe that “preventive” element can and will complement the “reactive” measures.


    Raymond Sam

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