Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Pause for Reflection - in praise of UNE

I have been focusing on the current University of New England strategic planning exercise. Discussions with colleagues suggests that I need to pause for reflection.

Commenting in a public forum such as this blog gets a message across to a wider audience. I think that's important. But it also raises issues about the way messages can be perceived, given that people absorb negatives more easily than positives. Is there a risk that the broader external world may absorb the negatives, thus damaging the university rather than aiding the planning process?

The answer to this question is, of course, yes. This blog is quite new, with regular posts only starting mid April, so traffic is still small - around 20 page hits per day over July - if growing reasonably fast. If you do an all blogs search on e-blogger on Personal Reflections, the blog is separately identified at the top of the search page as the first of three top blogs matching Personal Reflections, and that's flattering.

But it's not so much the immediate traffic as the inclusion of material on search engines that creates the problem in that it remains for the longer term.

How do I manage this?

To begin with, I need to make my overall position clear given that I am expressing some, hopefully balanced, criticisms and that I am also using comparisons between past and present as a device for drawing out points.

UNE remains, quite simply, a wonderful institution. That is my point, that is why I care.

I now live in Sydney. I have one daughter attending a Sydney university, her friends attend three others. I listen to them talk. None of those universities can match the intensity of the UNE experience for the student body as a whole. Travel time is one factor, sheer university size another. But there is also another, more difficult thing to pin down that I can only describe as atmosphere and ethos. UNE still feels like a university, there is a degree of involvement between students and institution that I don't think can be matched by any of the Sydney institutions.

Somehow in commenting I have to strike a balance between analysis and discussion that recognises and discusses weaknesses without causing us to lose sight of the strengths.

I need to think about this. In the meantime, I will take the opportunity in my next post to talk about some of the blogs I currently like.


Anonymous said...

Jim, I was at UNE from 1971 until April 1980, working full-time as an Academic Programmer in the Computer Centre and then also completing a BSc in Mathematical Statistics which I started at UNSW and transfered to UNE for the final year, and then a MSc in Computing Science. I also did some courses in Rural Science - Genetics and Breeding, just for fun, as we owned a stud farm of Angora goats for many years during that period. It was a nice place to live and work. Walter Adamson

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks for this comment, Walter. Glad you agree with me!

I am about to start posting some comments on Ene and IT. I have my own biases, so it would be helpful if you could review from your own specialist knowledge of the field.


Jim Belshaw