New Vice-Chancellor takes the helm
The University of Wollongong’s new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Wellings, today (3 January) started day one in the office committed to seeing UOW – which recently celebrated its 60th anniversary – move into the top 1 per cent of universities in the world.
The former Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University in north-west England, succeeds Professor Gerard Sutton, who was UOW’s longest-serving Vice-Chancellor since 1995.
“Currently UOW is placed in the top 2 per cent of universities world-wide and I want to see us move into the top 1 per cent by having an outstanding research and student focus,” Professor Wellings said.
“I am certainly lucky in that I have inherited a ‘very good ship’ but my challenge now is to carry us further forward.
“We have to maximise our return on the infrastructure we have set up over the past decade including places like the Innovation Campus and the SMART Facility.”
Professor Wellings praised as a “fantastic idea” the University’s plans to build a $300 million health and medical precinct based around a 180-bed private hospital and integrated primary care health centre.
The highly-regarded St Vincent’s and Mater Health Sydney organisation has been assisting the University to develop plans for the precinct, and is the University’s proposed operator for the hospital.
With an ageing population, demands on health care would be going up markedly over the next 20 years putting greater pressure on community care, the Vice-Chancellor said.
Professor Wellings said he would be examining potential new course offerings wherever possible including cross-faculty new initiatives.
“We should not be producing “oven ready chickens” but students who know how to be flexible as they may have to handle a number of jobs over their working lives.”
He said UOW was a key asset for the future development of the Illawarra region and he looked forward to being part of the next stage of the University’s development.
In an email message to staff at UOW today, Professor Wellings highlighted how “globally, higher education is in enormous demand driven by the increasing world population and the growing affluence of segments of economies in the Eastern Hemisphere. We need to continue with our strategy of internationalisation in order to capitalise on this opportunity.”
He went on to say: “Nationally, we are challenged to be more inclusive to disadvantaged sectors of the population and to increase the skills of all Australians. Given the demographic structure of our regional catchment and our underlying approach to engagement, we are in an ideal position to do both.”
Professor Wellings is UOW’s fourth Vice-Chancellor since the University gained its autonomy from the University of NSW in 1975, following Professor Michael Birt (1975-1981), Professor Ken McKinnon (1981-1995) and Professor Gerard Sutton (1995-2011).
An Australian/British citizen, Professor Wellings was born in Nottingham and educated at the universities of London, Durham and East Anglia. He moved to Australia in 1981 as a research ecologist at CSIRO, becoming Chief of the Entomology Division in 1995. From 1997 to 1999, he was Head of the Innovation and Science Division, Department of Industry, Science and Resources, Canberra, and in 1999 he became Deputy Chief Executive of CSIRO.
Professor Wellings has previously been a Director of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). In 2006 he was appointed to the board of Universities UK and Chair of its International European Policy Committee. He was also a board member of Higher Education Funding Council for England and Chair of its Research and Innovation Committee.