New provost brings positive mindset to passionate community

Professor Kerri-Lee Krause.

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Our new senior academic has a record of leading strategic change by engaging students and staff members in cultural transformation. Professor Kerri-Lee Krause began as Provost (Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor) this week. We asked the Avondale alumna, formerly a Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Provost at The University of Melbourne, about the changing nature of academic work (and about growing and staying strong).

What has academic work been; what should it become?

Academic work typically comprises teaching, research and service, whether that be service to the institution through leadership or service to the discipline through peer review activities and the like.

Academic work has become more complex as the higher education sector has becomes more globalised, competitive and regulated. Mass higher education also means teaching and supporting students has become a more specialised work as institutions welcome students from increasingly diverse backgrounds with diverse learning needs.

In many universities, more opportunities exist for academic staff to specialise, in teaching- or research-focussed roles, for example. I’m also observing a positive shift in the value attached to close partnerships between academic staff and highly skilled professional staff as we recognise the complementary roles of each in the higher education ecosystem.

We need to support our academic and professional staff as they juggle these complexities.

You began your career as a teacher in the Seventh-day Adventist school system before moving, with a master’s and PhD, to the higher education sector. Where do you prefer affecting change: the classroom or the boardroom?

It’s a “both-and” answer. One of my go-to quotes on leading change and organisational renewal is, “If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance less.” Change is a constant. The key to success is supporting and empowering people through times of change, whether they be in the classroom or in the boardroom.

You’re a woman with experience in leadership working for an institution with an emerging women in leadership culture. Is this a challenge or an opportunity?

It’s a fabulous opportunity that brings challenge with it. I’m a glass half-full leader, and I’m pragmatic. I accept we have many challenges ahead, but with a positive mindset and a passionate community, we’ll turn them into stepping stone opportunities.

How do you recharge?

I enjoy taking long walks with my husband. It’s a good time to talk, share ideas and plans, and be contemplative. I go to the gym several mornings a week and do strength training. “Grow strong, stay strong” is my workout motto. I love classical music and wandering around art galleries, too.

What are you reading (for pleasure)?

I’m reading Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark by Julia Baird. I’m also reading The New Power University: The social purpose of higher education in the 21st century by Jonathan Grant. And I’ve invested in a terrific new translation of The Hebrew Bible with commentary, by Robert Alter.

Describe the person who’s had the most influence on your life.

The most influential spiritual “person” in my life would have to be my Heavenly Father. We’ve travelled an interesting journey together and His life-changing influence sustains me, challenges me and makes me who I am today. My wonderful parents, together, have been one hugely powerful influence on my life, too.

Brenton Stacey is the Public Relations and Philanthropy Officer at Avondale University College.

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