As you may know, August is the month of Open Day. In fact, there are two open days: the all-encompassing Open Day at the North Terrace Campus (Sunday, August 15), and the Roseworthy Campus Information Day (Friday, August 13).
Both events give us a chance to show prospective students, their families and friends what the University of Adelaide is all about. More importantly, both days are about communicating with the general public - not just talking to people, but also listening to what they have to say.
It is, of course, my belief that every day should be an open day.
Since joining the University of Adelaide, I have been committed to the principles of effective communication - not just with the external community but also within the university. What I have seen occurring over my time here is an improvement in lines of communication within the university. The environmental scan workshop, the staff values study, my regular visits to schools, departments and faculties, and the open forums have all added to my understanding of issues and concerns right across the university and have, I hope, given students and staff greater opportunities for input.
A strong level of communication is always important, but perhaps even more so in the environment of change that universities find themselves in today. As a result, this month our open lines of communication are about to widen even further.
A new "Heads Forum" for senior academic and administrative staff will be held on Friday, August 6 at the National Wine Centre. The forum will discuss what it means to be a "research-intensive" university. I hope we also have time to consider the implications for Australia of a UK-style Research Assessment Exercise whereby research funding would become increasingly performance-based. A local version, which DEST is calling a "Quality and Accessibility Framework" is presently the subject of high-level evaluation.
In addition, I have commissioned an online staff survey, which I hope will enable all of us at the University of Adelaide to be open and honest about key issues. To be offered for three weeks starting August 16, this is an opportunity for staff to provide opinions, highlight key issues facing the university, identify areas where we can deliver more benefits to staff, and to provoke actions and outcomes.
Privacy will be ensured; an external consulting company will collect the survey results to protect privacy and give staff the confidence to answer the survey honestly and frankly, but also to contribute constructive feedback. This commitment to wanting honest feedback will be matched by my commitment to personally report to staff the actions and outcomes arising from the survey. The summary results will also be published for the university community by the end of the year, showing both good and bad news.
It is important for us to talk as well as to listen, and that is why I encourage the input of all staff in this new survey.
PROFESSOR JAMES A. McWHA
Vice-Chancellor and President