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Report focuses on making JCU 'great'

A strategy to make James Cook University a “great” university was outlined to the institution’s community today.

March 13, 2013: - A strategy to make James Cook University a “great” university was outlined to the institution’s community today.

Prepared by the JCU- The Future Taskforce established by Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding last year, the report contains 20 recommendations.

The chair of the Taskforce, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Chris Cocklin, said that the report addressed the first phase of the project: Crystallising our Purpose.

“There is still a lot of work and more consultation to be undertaken in the next two phases to detail the innovative approach outlined in today’s report to the VC and then put in place an implementation plan,” Professor Cocklin said.  “We are also expecting the concurrent review of services and operations to be available later this month.

“In preparation of the Crystallising our Purpose report, we have already seen the most extensive consultation process within the JCU community for at least a decade, if not more,” Professor Cocklin said.

“The process has been embraced by staff, who have made more than 900 individual contributions either by attending a focus group, and/or contributing to the Word Cloud and/or providing a written submission.”

The report looks at the three elements of the University’s core business – Learning and Teaching, Research, and Engagement.

“It has identified key attributes and principles to define a ‘James Cook University Model’ which will be focused on the tropics, research rich, student focused, connected to community, internationally engaged, and culturally informed,” Professor Cocklin said.

The report says that the JCU Model should be underpinned by the following principles:

  • We will fulfil the aims, ambitions and expectations expressed through the James Cook University Act 1997.

  • The James Cook University Model will give effect to the Statement of Strategic Intent, including our values and beliefs.

  • The three elements of our core business – learning and teaching, research, and engagement – will be closely integrated.

  • The special opportunities presented by our three tropical campus locations will project our University’s distinctiveness, individually and collectively.

  • The University will be sustainable financially and in terms of its social and environmental performance.

“The ambition is to uphold a university that is unique in the Australian higher education setting, in terms of its focus, the student experience, and its engagement,” the report says.

“To this end, substantial changes in learning delivery, organisational culture and structure, and the way we work will be required.”

One of the key recommendations is that the University should develop “a grand challenges framework” within which its core business of teaching and learning, research, and engagement will be focused.

The framework identifies four grand challenges linked to the challenge of sustainable future for the global tropics:

  • Ecological resilience – mitigating and adapting to human induced change, conservation of the environment, biodiversity protection.

  • Human wellbeing good health, social equity, economic opportunity.

  • Resource security – access to water and sanitation, sustainable energy resources, food security.

  • Good governance – political representation, freedom of speech, absence of corruption, effective governments, transparency of process.

“In some of these areas JCU is already a world leader, while others need to be developed further and there are also some that we have yet to tackle,” Professor Cocklin said.

The report affirms that while the University seeks to pursue a global agenda with particular emphasis on the tropics, it must continue to also provide the professional workforce for northern Australia.

The University set up the internal taskforce in June last year to further enhance its development as Australia’s University for the Tropics.  It worked across four primary domains – learning and teaching, research and innovation, engagement, and services and resources.

Professor Harding said that the goal of the changes emanating from the work of the Taskforce was “nothing less than establishing JCU as a great University, renowned for education, research and engagement relevant to the tropical world - including northern Queensland”.

“The taskforce’s outcomes have implications for JCU’s core activity, policies, operations and structures and I urge the JCU community to continue to be involved with the work of the taskforce and the ‘re-imagining’ of the University,”  she said.

As well as Professor Cocklin, the taskforce comprised Ms Tricia Brand, Executive Director Finance and Resource Planning, Professor Sally Kift, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Dr Stephen Weller, Deputy Vice Chancellor University Services, and Ms Stephanie Hunter, Executive Office, Office of the Vice Chancellor.

Issued: March 13, 2013

JCU Media Liaison, Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822