Head of Campus since 2013, Dr Neal’s leadership has been integral to the campus development and to delivering the opportunities and skills needed by the community.
During her tenure, Dr Neal has overseen the expansion of the campus, and helped reshape the University’s relationship with the Sunraysia Institute of TAFE (SuniTAFE).
Her focus on collaboration led to the founding of Futures Day at the Mildura campus, where local year 12 students work with University and SuniTAFE staff to explore future study options and plan their next steps.
La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said Dr Neal was synonymous with La Trobe in Mildura and was a tireless advocate for all students and the broader Mildura community.
“Deb joined the University in 1991 with the establishment of our education program in Mildura, and since then has been instrumental in expanding the program and adapting it to the changing policy environment and community needs,” Professor Dewar said.
“Deb also established our Teaching Schools partnership with local schools to enable extended in-classroom experience for final year students, and secured philanthropic support for participating students.”
Dr Neal said she was particularly proud of the work the campus had done with both primary and secondary schools in Mildura, creating a culture of collaboration which benefited the whole community.
“Our work with high schools has helped young people see that a university degree is a real option for them; they have their own campus here, and they have seen their parents attend university here and achieve great things through access to higher education,” Dr Neal said.
“We’ve also been able to train much-needed teachers – responding to workforce shortages in our region – and address community needs for trained staff in health, education, social work and business.”
Dr Neal said she had been fortunate to work with a wonderful team and see so many students graduate from the campus and go on to live and work in the Mildura community.
“One of my great passions is seeing more women accessing higher education. I’ve been able to see how a university qualification has changed the lives of so many women in our community, which in turn changes the lives of their families and their children,” Dr Neal said.
“I look forward to watching La Trobe Mildura continue to grow, and seeing more people gravitate towards the University and the opportunities education opens up.”
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