Avondale to undergo sustainable transformation

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A faculty restructure and the introduction of a research fellowship are the first two markers on Avondale University College’s road map for sustainable transformation.

The restructure will reduce the number of faculties from two—Education, Business and Science and Arts, Nursing and Theology—to one. The fellowship, offered at different levels, will see staff members apply for rather than receive a loading for research.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Kevin Petrie announced the decisions in the second of a series of documents for consultation. The first explained the objectives of the process—to develop a viable operating model and return to a balanced budget within two years. Feedback from staff members and an external report on governance structure informed decision making.

“While there is danger of going too slow, there is also a risk in moving too quickly!” reads the document emailed by Prof Petrie to staff members on Friday, June 26. “We wish to ensure that careful diligence is given to each area and time is allocated to reflect, seek further advice and to ensure we are proceeding in a careful manner.”

The restructure will mean:
  • A stronger role for schools in academic governance;
  • A reduction in administrative roles, and;
  • A reduction in the number of policy development and approval “layers”, particularly within learning and teaching—all schools will report to a single Learning and Teaching Committee, which will continue to serve as a sub-committee of Academic Board.

The restructure will be completed by the beginning of the academic year in 2021.

The fellowship, offered at different levels, will see staff members apply for rather than receive a loading for research. It will comprise an agreed number of hours over two years (although a fellowship connected to an external grant may be longer) and include key performance indicators and an annual progress report. Successful applicants will demonstrate how their research contributes to Avondale’s core focus areas. Mentorship will also be encouraged.

The introduction of the fellowship will mean:
  • A revision of the promotion policy and procedures to ensure the pathway for teaching-focused positions is fair and equitable, and;
  • A focus on the creation of additional teaching periods to provide further pathways for teaching-focused positions.

Applications for the fellowship open in October this year.

Avondale is also seeking, through increasing income and adjusting expenditure, an across-the-board 7.5 per cent gain in operational efficiency. As part of this push, it will begin using realtor Ray White to manage the College View Residences and the Central Road cottages on the Lake Macquarie campus. Avondale will retain control over the allocation of rental properties to prospective tenants and continue providing maintenance. The arrangement begins in August and will mean a decrease in the number of full-time equivalent staff in Financial and Business Services.

An analysis of the viability of courses and the potential efficiencies within departmental cost centres will continue with planned changes announced by the end of July.

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