“I believe this is the year where opportunities will far outweigh the challenges we confront.”
With many of us now returned to campus, I welcome you back for a new year. I offer my particular thanks to colleagues who remained on deck throughout the holiday period.
With the previous year so dominated and disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I had several reflections over the break. Firstly, I acknowledge what a difficult year 2021 was on so many fronts for members of the Macquarie community – many dimensions of work changing and a multitude of alterations to personal, professional and family life. At the same time, I was and remain so impressed by just how adaptive our community was in responding to the continued challenges presented by the pandemic in 2021, further strengthening the strong sense of community and purpose that defines Macquarie University.
While 2021 offered us the increased protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccines, the emergence of new variants reminded us that the pandemic continues, as has its impact on the University and wider community. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to get vaccinated and increase your protection with the booster as soon as you are eligible. We continue to be thankful for the coordinated approach to manage the pandemic being taken in New South Wales, and the University continues to base its response on NSW Health advice, which includes wearing masks indoors and checking into buildings with QR codes where available. With COVID-19 still circulating in the community, if you are feeling unwell or have symptoms please do not come to campus. Get tested and follow NSW Health advice.
As we know, proof of vaccination is no longer required to visit campus. However, if you are unvaccinated, it is your personal responsibility to consider the wellbeing of others with whom you may come in contact, both on and off campus. We encourage the use of Rapid Antigen Testing to help you make an informed decision about coming to campus.
We continue in 2022 to implement the necessary steps to set the University on a course of sustainability and transforming the way we work to better meet the needs of our students and our staff. As rapid resolution of the impact of the pandemic has eluded the global community, we have all acknowledged the reality that things will not return to the way they were before, ever. So much will have changed, from the expectations of our students for a more consistently blended experience in their education, requiring the academy to adapt our approach to pedagogy, to the changes in approach to collaboration. We have all adapted to new ways of working and will continue to do so.
I believe this is the year where opportunities will far outweigh the challenges we confront. The work of the Operating Plan will accelerate on many fronts as we focus on aspects such as continuing the important work around placing our students truly in the centre of our consideration of our education mission. Our digital transformation will speed up with the enhanced investments approved by University Council at the December 2021 meeting as a part of the 2022 budget. We will see our service levels transformed as we implement shared services into reality. I have asked the ‘Our People’ program board to bring forward a proposal on how the University will embed flexibility in time and place of work for the future.
I remind us all that the Operating Plan defines our pathway to come together as a community to secure the medium and long-term future of Macquarie. This work is far more than finding a financial solution to the reality of continued downturn in international student enrolments due to border restrictions. It is about deriving a new operating model on so many fronts to increase the University’s performance, resilience and sustainability.
My commitment to the University community, and that of the Executive Group, is to ensure that we continue the established patterns of regular communication, underpinned by transparency and engagement, reflecting the values of our institution.
As we embark on our work together, I look forward to seeing you on campus – especially as we enjoy the new amenities of the Central Courtyard precinct and other locations. I am very proud of our campus, and I hope that, as you move around it, you too feel the pride and privilege of working on such beautiful country. It is the coming together of the community that I think really signifies what Macquarie means to us all. Our community is about shared purpose and joint aspiration. Despite the challenging times of the last two years, our community has shown incredible performance. We must keep our sights on ascendant performance going forward as we grasp the opportunities to secure the future of the University. Being a community is also fundamentally about caring for each other and for the sustainability of the University going forward.
I wish you all a productive start to the year and I thank you for your ongoing commitment to the University and our community.
With all good wishes for 2022.
Professor S Bruce Dowton