It may be somewhat belated, but as it is my first monthly message for the year… a very Happy 2015 to you all. I hope you have had a chance to get some time to relax, be with family and friends over the festive season and to recharge the batteries.
For many staff, I am aware that it has already been a busy start to the year, with a lot of activity underway around student selection and enrolment, and in implementing system and other changes to give effect to the Future Ready strategy. Thank you all for the work you are doing.
All of us have now formally moved to new organisational structures and started to implement new working practices. Many of us have also changed our working location and are operating from a new physical environment on campus. For others, relocations will continue over coming weeks. We are currently in a time of change and transition during which it will be important to identify and resolve the teething problems that will inevitably arise.
As I have said on previous occasions, it is our people – not formal reporting lines or organisational structures – that will make this change a true success. Based on the skill and dedication of all staff at La Trobe, I have every confidence we are set for a challenging, but rewarding year ahead.
Welcome to new senior staff at La Trobe
A warm welcome to staff who have joined La Trobe in recent weeks. I want to recognise the arrival of two senior leaders in particular.
Professor Tony McGrew: Pro-Vice Chancellor College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce
Professor Tony McGrew was formally announced as the Pro-Vice Chancellor for the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce in the middle of last year, and started in his role in late January.
Professor McGrew is a widely-respected academic and an experienced University administrator. He was previously Professor of Global Public Policy and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Strathclyde University Glasgow. Before this he was Professor of International Relations and Head of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton. He has held numerous visiting appointments including positions at ANU, Trinity College Dublin and Chuo University, Tokyo and is a Visiting Professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Professor McGrew's research interests focus on the political economy of globalisation, international relations theory and globalisation, global governance and China's role in global institutions.
Professor McGrew brings a wealth of experience to La Trobe and has an important role to play at the executive table representing the perspective and priorities of the College, as well as providing leadership and guidance to College staff across the University.
Mark Engel: Chief Marketing Officer
Welcome also to Mark Engel who was recently appointed as Chief Marketing Officer.
Mark has worked in a number of senior marketing and strategy roles at Bupa Australia Holdings (Bupa) an international healthcare provider serving 30 million customers in over 190 countries and employing over 52,000 people across private health insurance, aged care, hospitals, home health care, chronic disease management and corporate wellness services.
Mark's leadership and experience will be vital for the University as we face what can only be an increasingly competitive and complex environment in which to recruit undergraduate and post graduate students, as well as promote our research expertise and community contribution.
It is an exciting time for the University and the sector and I am confident Mark's experience and skill will help to ensure that the team at La Trobe will seize every opportunity to lift our teaching and research profile in the community.
A busy start for student recruitment and finance
Thanks to the University recruitment and selection staff who have worked very hard through January to attract and admit a very strong field of students to study at La Trobe in 2015.
This year, the sector experienced an overall 2.2 per cent decrease in the total number of domestic applications through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). La Trobe's number of undergraduate first preferences was largely stable (a drop of one percent) and our total market share was unchanged from last year at 12 per cent.
We saw some positive results with first preferences for our Albury- Wodonga Campus increasing by 12.2 percent and significant increases in first preference for our health science courses (up by 3.3 per cent), education (up by 3.4 per cent) and business (up by .8 per cent). Our Applied Science/Physiotherapy Practice program was ranked the sixth most popular course in VTAC.
Our mature age University first preferences, however, decreased by eight percent, which is in line with the rest of the sector.
The work is not over yet. Our recruitment staff are focusing on our Apply Direct initiative to attract more students. We are already seeing a positive response with the number of direct applications up by 14 per cent on last year for both undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
We have a targeted marketing campaign currently underway and a series of Apply Direct events scheduled over the coming weeks. Given the decrease in the number of mature age students, we will also continue to promote our Inspired Futures program to prospective mature age students in the regions.
Later this month, we will host a welcome event for students who have been admitted through our Aspire early admissions program. This is the first intake of this inspiring and committed group of young people. We want to recognise their leadership and community achievements to date and encourage them to take up a new leadership role while at La Trobe. Plans are well underway to further enhance our Aspire early admissions program for the 2016 intake.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to each of you for supporting these student recruitment initiatives.
Thanks also to staff in the finance area who, as they do every year, have worked through the University shutdown period to process and reconcile the accounts for the close of our financial year. This work has been further complicated by the transfer of electronic systems being undertaken by ICT to reflect the new 2015 structure, so I want to thank all those staff involved for their professionalism and dedication to this task.
Ideas and Society asks: Climate change scepticism – why is it so?
2015 will be another exciting year for La Trobe's Ideas and Society program and I am delighted to invite all staff to attend the first event of the year.
Vice-Chancellor's Fellow and Emeritus Professor Rob Manne will speak with visiting UK author George Marshall, whose recent book, Don't Even Think about It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, explores the phenomenon of climate change scepticism and seeks to explain, through the prism of disciplines including psychology and sociology, why many people are 'wired' to ignore the facts of science when it comes to this issue.
This event is being held at the Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, between 6-7.30pm on Tuesday 17 February 2015. Please register here.
In closing, it won't be long now before students are back on campus. Orientation Week activities are planned to start on Tuesday 24 February and the first semester starts the following Monday 2 March.
I continue to be proud and delighted at how very friendly and welcoming we are of new staff and students to La Trobe and I am sure this will be no different this year. So, if you see or meet a person new to La Trobe, please continue to help them in any way you can.
Have a great February