Equity and excellence should go hand in hand, says the University of Tasmania’s new Provost, Professor Jane Long.
Professor Long started on 4 June and is looking forward to the challenge of enabling greater access to higher education while striving for institutional excellence.
“I do believe that higher education genuinely changes people’s lives, and that there’s a great deal of work to be done throughout Australia, and certainly in Tasmania,” Professor Long said.
“As a long-time academic myself, I have a very strong commitment to academic excellence, and I think that excellence and equity can be achieved simultaneously; it’s very important to aspire to both at the same time.
“There is a particular challenge of increasing participation in the Tasmanian context, at a time when there’s a great focus upon the University in its contribution to the broader Tasmanian community and the State’s future.”
Professor Long was most recently at La Trobe University in Victoria, where she was Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, and before that, at the University of Western Australia (UWA), where she had oversight of education, equity, regional and international portfolios.
As another multi-campus institution like La Trobe, or one with long-standing regional centres such as UWA, the University of Tasmania shares similar issues around supporting regional communities and ensuring access to quality higher education.
“Some of the themes and concern about access to great education, as well as the power of the research that we do, remain the same,” Professor Long said.
“I think there’s an enormous amount of goodwill and optimism about the future and the difference that the University can make to enrich the lives of Tasmanians, and in the State more generally.”
Professor Long is looking forward to progressing an ambitious agenda in the context of the higher education sector more broadly.
“It’s incredibly exciting and important at this juncture to pause, draw breath and to ponder the issues identified by the Vice-Chancellor: ‘What is it that we’re really aiming for? What kind of university do we want to be? And how can that marry with the very real needs and aspirations of the broader Tasmanian community?’”
Professor Long is based in Launceston and will travel regularly to both the Hobart and the Cradle Coast campuses as she acquaints herself with the University, its people and the work that is already underway.
“I think that alongside the general conversations about the kind of University that we aim to be and how we can achieve that, I do put people at the heart of what I do,” Professor Long said.
“A university is all about its people, and that’s both staff and students, and the communities in which it sits.
“We should be thinking about the ways in which our students and staff are supported in what they do, that they have access to the kinds of development to best equip us to fulfil a range of opportunities and challenges … in a way that is always greater than the sum of its parts.”
Professor Long has a research background specialising in Modern British and European history, and in gender studies. Her areas of interest include body theory, and the intersection of culture and technology, including social media and its impact on identity and sense of self.
Published on: 13 Jun 2018 2:17pm