New Provost appointment reflects digital shift

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) Professor Liz Burd will move to a newly created Provost position as Griffith University charts a course to embrace digitalisation and blended study opportunities.

Professor Liz Burd

The Provost is the chief academic officer of the University, a member of the University’s Executive and the standing Deputy to the Vice Chancellor.

Professor Burd joined Griffith in January from the University of Newcastle and will move into the Provost role in January 2022, when Professor Shaun Ewen, currently at the University of Melbourne, will assume the role of Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education).

As Provost, Liz will have executive responsibility for providing leadership and strategic direction for operations across academic groups and the end-to-end student lifecycle, from marketing to graduation.

“The pandemic has really provided an opportunity to revitalise the campus experience moving forward, thinking about new modes for course delivery that recognise the opportunities that technology allows but in a way that ensures a strong sense of community and valuable campus-based experiences,” she said.

“By enhancing the education profile of Griffith, we are working to deliver a good quality student experience, but this new role also includes taking into account the staff experience and ways in which we can enhance their journey as well.

“We’re listening to feedback provided by our student body about their learning preferences, which shows that 1/3 of them like being on campus, 1/3 like live lectures delivered through technology and 1/3 enjoy pre-recorded learning content, which demonstrates that students have broadened their expectations of what higher education providers should do.”

“The one thing they more or less agreed on, was that at any point in time, they might want to switch between their preferred one and one of the other ones.

“These are exciting times and I want to make sure our staff aren’t daunted by this but supported with the tools and the capability to operate in this new technology enhanced environment.

“Students and staff will start to see gradual changes to our offering but from next year, we’ll start a new project to replace the current learning management system.”

Professor Shaun Ewen

Professor Burd’s successor Professor Shaun Ewen comes to Griffith from the University of Melbourne, where he holds the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Place and Indigenous).

He has a clinical background in physiotherapy, a postgraduate qualification in international relations and a doctorate in education. His area of research expertise relates to Indigenous health, health professional education and workforce development.

Professor Ewen’s appointment is significant as he is understood to be the first Indigenous academic in Australia to be appointed to a Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) role.

He says he is looking forward to the new challenges of the role, new context, and new opportunities.

“Everyone brings their background, their social capital, their networks, and their perspectives to their work,” he said.

“I look forward to joining Griffith’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous), Professor Cindy Shannon, on the executive, with whom I have a nearly 25 year working relationship, and following and supporting her lead and initiatives on Indigenous matters.”

In his current role, Professor Ewen has responsibility for institutional policy, strategy, and advice in relation to all aspects of Indigenous higher education and academic leadership of the ‘Place’ agenda within Melbourne’s strategy–Advancing Melbourne 2030. As inaugural Director from 2015, he established the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health as a centre of national and international repute.

He also held the position of Associate Dean (Indigenous Development) in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne from its inception in 2010 until 2016.

As Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) he will have responsibility for Griffith’s teaching and learning strategy, student life and experience and will work in partnership with the Provost, Vice President (Global) and Vice President (Marketing and Communication) to lead global student and education activities.

“I was interested in joining Griffith because of its strong leadership, and its mission and values. Australia doesn’t need all our universities to be the same — we need increasing diversity in the sector.”

“How do we think about the kind of students we admit, and how do we make a difference in people’s lives?

“Universities need to work really hard to connect more closely with our communities, and I have seen that in different places around the world. Griffith can be, if it isn’t already, an exemplar.”

The Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) roles are two of Griffith’s most senior academic leadership positions.