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Curtin University
Vice-Chancellor
Note to staff

March 28, 2008

 
 

Curtin moving forward

We will soon be announcing that a focus on education and research in health, resources, sustainability and information and communications technology (ICT) – areas vital to the future of the State, the nation and the region – will be among the University’s priorities for the next decade.

Our initiatives in these areas will have an interdisciplinary approach and will be underpinned by our strengths in business, communication and the sciences. Curtin will remain a broadly based institution, as it is the combination of all our strengths that will position us as a leading provider of innovative programs to benefit the community locally, nationally and internationally.

The construction of the $110 million Resources and Chemistry Precinct clearly establishes Curtin as the leading WA provider of education and research in the resources, science and engineering fields. More recently the University entered into a $10.7 million partnership with Rio Tinto to improve research into mine technologies, and announced a partnership with the Chamber of Minerals and Energy to develop the capacity of the sector to respond to the critical skills shortage.

These relationships with government and industry show the power of Curtin’s applied and partnerships focussed approach to research and scholarship, an approach we will now be bringing to the areas of health and sustainability through the development of new institutes of innovation.

In line with Curtin’s reputation, the health institute will be bold, integrated and relevant. In research, education, policy and practice it will work with community, governments and industry partners in the prevention and management of chronic disease through strategic, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research.

Our health system is struggling to cope with the demands made on it and we need to develop new models of interdisciplinary and community focussed health care to reshape the system and keep people out of hospital.

The institute will make a major contribution to improving the way health care is offered.

We are also expanding our work in the field of sustainability. Curtin already provides education in this area through courses such as cleaner production, environmental biology, sustainable tourism and sustainable communities, and this will be the basis of a sustainable development institute at the University. The institute will provide a framework for investigating and setting sustainability guidelines and targets, advise business and industry on resource usage and management, and conduct high level research into sustainable best practice in all fields of endeavour.

Importantly, it will also drive cultural change within the University as we seek to measure the dimension of our carbon footprint and develop related management strategies. Mr Satis Arnold, a planning expert, has been appointed Director of the institute and will drive its development and partnerships with industry and business.

Curtin’s expertise in the area of ICT has been enhanced in the past year by the appointments of Professors Steven Tingay and Peter Hall, acknowledged experts in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s largest radio astronomy project.

Curtin is closely involved in the effort to bring the $2 billion SKA project to Western Australia, and will be the lead institution in the multi-million dollar Centre of Excellence for Radio Astronomy recently announced by the State Government.

We are also developing some other exciting initiatives in the area of information communications technology, which I expect to be able to announce later this year.

While in the longer term we expect new facilities will be built for these institutes, Curtin’s focus on these areas is not dependent on buildings. We are already making make major contributions in these fields through our teaching and research.

However, in light of these initiatives and government developments impacting on the Bentley Campus, we will be updating the master plan for the site. That process will not only look at physical facilities but will also consider the University’s operations and plans in an holistic sense.

The appointments of Professors Hall and Tingay and Mr Arnold are part of a senior recruitment strategy to complement our existing expertise and equip Curtin to make major gains in all areas as we move ahead.

Renowned sustainability expert Professor Peter Newman and many of his team also joined Curtin last year. In the resources area we have appointed Professor Paul Dunn to head the WA School of Mines, Professor Andris Stelbovics to lead the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Mr Mark Woffenden as the inaugural Executive Director of the Precinct.

Enhancing our health expertise have been the appointments of Professor Jill Downie as Pro Vice-Chancellor of Health Sciences and Professor Phil Della, formerly the Chief Nursing Officer of WA, as head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Professor Duncan Bentley will soon join Curtin to lead the Business School, and Professor Stephen Martin is about to take up the key role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Strategy and Planning.

I will be addressing all staff on 9 April and will expand on these initiatives and other developments occurring within the University at that time. As always, I welcome your feedback on these and other matters occurring within Curtin.

 
 

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