I’m told that I have shaken the hands of 25 per cent of the people who have ever graduated from UWA. It has been a great thrill, as I’ve often said at graduation ceremonies, standing on the stage looking down at the sea of graduand faces and thinking about the fabulous resource we’re releasing to enrich society here and elsewhere.Dr Michael Chaney
Since his inauguration in March 2006, UWA Chancellor Dr Michael Chaney AO has provided strong leadership and guidance during what has been a challenging time and period of great transformation for not only our university but higher education institutions across Australia.
Dr Chaney’s is an extraordinary legacy of leadership that has resulted in many deep friendships, including with the three Vice-Chancellors he has worked alongside, as well as staff, students, alumni and community. There is no doubt Uniview speaks on behalf of the entire University community in thanking Dr Chaney and his family for helping to preserve the quality and accessibility of higher education in WA and wishing them all the very best for the future.
Below, Dr Chaney reflects back on his tenure at UWA.
It has been a great honour to serve as Chancellor of this distinguished institution. For more than 100 years, The University of Western Australia has been part of the fabric of our state and even before I stepped into the role the University had a huge influence on my lifeand wasthe source of some of my fondest memories. My deep connection with the University extends also to my family, many who have been beneficiaries of a wonderful education at UWA.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most as Chancellor is working with three outstanding Vice-Chancellors, each different, each their own person, each bringing special skills to the job. I’d also like to pay tribute to the Senate members, some elected and some appointed, who at all times have acted in the best interests of the University. I have made lifelong friends across so many areas of this institution. I’m told that I have shaken the hands of 25 per cent of the people who have ever graduated from UWA. It has been a great thrill, as I’ve often said at graduation ceremonies, standing on the stage looking down at the sea of graduand faces and thinking about the fabulous resource we’re releasing to enrich society here and elsewhere.
It’s been very pleasing to see UWA rise in international rankings and I believe our quality of performance is not just in outstanding research but across so many areas of teaching. Successful contemporary universities have a role in both. That is to produce outstanding and world-class research across a range of disciplines and to offer an exceptional educational experience by delivering sought-after courses, using leading teaching methods. The vast majority of our students are positive about their teaching experience, but improving that experience for all is currently receiving a great deal of attention at our institution.
There’s no doubt the past 12 years have been particularly challenging for universities in Australia as we have faced sweeping change, not only in the way we are funded but also in the rules and constraints that apply to us and the competitive landscape. The fact that UWA has been able to chart a successful path through these changes is testament to the dedicated efforts of everyone involved – from the Senate and Vice-Chancellors to each individual staff member and the multitude of others who support the University in so many different ways.
During 2015 and 2016 the University undertook a major restructuring – the Renewal Project – which involved a reduction in staff numbers and a reorganisation of Faculties. Such exercises, like all change initiatives, invariably give rise to feelings of unease amongst stakeholders; but I believe there is now a general acceptance of the necessity of the changes we made. Renewal has allowed us to secure our own future rather than rely on external forces to dictate it. With the project now behind us, the University is solidifying its expertise by inviting the world’s best academic and research staff to join us on our mission – 'to advance the prosperity and welfare of all people'.
Caption: Dr Chaney reflects on his tenure at UWA
In 2012 UWA introduced a new course structure aligning the University to an international model that better prepares our students to meet the demands of the modern workplace. I said at the time I’ve never seen such a major change in any organisation that was so universally endorsed, which says much about the thorough preparation that went into the transition.
I cannot talk about UWA without mentioning the stunning physical environment that is our Crawley campus. Of all the places to wander, I think the Tropical Grove is my favourite, its towering trees seemingly having tapped into a uniquely rich source of nutrition. While advances in technology have changed some aspects of learning, for example by providing coursework online, I would hate to see the campus experience diminish. It provides wonderful opportunities for students to develop friendships and deepen their intellectual understanding by meeting and mixing with so many others. Activities such as debating, music, student politics and team sports that take place on campus are an essential and integral part of the full university experience.
I would like to conclude by paying tribute to the members of UWA’s New Century Campaign committee who have given so tirelessly of their time to raise an ambitious $400 million to support our University. This campaign has been about so much more than dollars and is illustrative of the enormous public support there is for our institution. We aimed very high and the fact that we have reached and in fact surpassed our target will benefit our students, researchers and community well into the future, helping us to make a genuine difference to the lives of individuals. I pay special tribute to Andrew and Nicola Forrest for their generosity in making a record-breaking donation of $130 million to the University and to each and every person who put their hand into their pocket to help us achieve our goals.
Caption: Dr Chaney greets the Duke of Edinburgh during a 2011 visit to UWA
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