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“It’s about people and relationships”

Meet Professor Helen Bartlett, the new vice-chancellor of the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Image: Lou O’Brien

People

“It’s about people and relationships”

Meet Professor Helen Bartlett, the new vice-chancellor of the University of the Sunshine Coast.

The University of the Sunshine Coast’s new vice-chancellor is an internationally recognised scholar in gerontology who is credited with having established the Australasian Centre on Ageing as part of a previous tenure at the University of Queesnland. Professor Helen Bartlett takes the reins from Professor Greg Hill, who held the role for the past 10 years.

Prof Bartlett was vice-chancellor and president of Federation University Australia and has enjoyed a distinguished career in academia and university management across Australia, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Prior to joining Federation University, she was pro vice-chancellor and chief executive of Monash University Malaysia and pro vice-chancellor and president of Monash University’s Gippsland campus.

As the chair of the Regional Universities Network, she has been a strong advocate for more government-funded university places in regional Australia and greater investment in research.

Originally from the northwest of England, Prof Bartlett recently moved to the Coast from regional Victoria. Based at the Sippy Downs campus to lead the fast-growing university, she’s on the lookout for the best place on the Coast to settle. An outdoor enthusiast, she enjoys cycling with her husband and is looking forward to exploring our region on two wheels.

“There are so many lovely areas you can live in on the Sunshine Coast,” she says. “We could choose the hinterland, or some of the areas close to the campus, or perhaps the Coast.

“I know the Sunshine Coast pretty well, having lived in Brisbane previously. I am pretty familiar with the geography and the growth is just amazing. When you look at the population projections for the Sunshine Coast, in fact all the locations where we have campuses are growing. From the Fraser Coast down to Moreton Bay, where our newest campus is, there are tremendous opportunities for our university to be a major partner in the growth of the economy.

Prof Bartlett’s vision for the university focuses on teamwork, consultation and community engagement.

“I really get such satisfaction from the engagement in regional communities and incredible satisfaction from developing graduates who can contribute to their regions, because around 70 per cent of students who study in the regions, we know will stay and work in the regions. It’s immensely satisfying to be part of boosting the social, cultural and economic development of the region so you can really make a difference.

“I certainly think the university can strengthen its position as a major player in the growth of the region and that’s something I’m quite passionate about.

“Post-COVID, we have to really enhance our teaching and learning in new ways. Now we’re deeply into a blended learning delivery, so we can provide both online and face-to-face teaching for our students.

“Our university has traditionally catered for a wide range of ages. We have a lot of mature age students and we’re going to have to increase our efforts in that respect.

As USC’s third vice-chancellor, Prof Bartlett brings her own leadership style to the university.

“At the end of the day, it’s about people and it’s about relationships. Teamwork for me is really critical to leadership and as a new leader coming into USC, I’m not going to be setting the vision and strategy on my own; it’s something we work on as a university. Yes, I have to drive it and show the leadership in that respect, but it’s something that comes through community consultation and bringing people along because everybody has a passion for their work and for the university.”

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Leigh Robshaw is a journalist who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years. Originally from Sydney, she has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Latin America. She joined the team in 2012 and is MWP's deputy editor. Writing, reading and travel are her greatest passions.

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