Enhancing Flinders University’s contribution to the ‘new South Australia’ with its growing defence and resources sectors is a priority for the University’s incoming Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Barber.
Believing that well-qualified graduates are the biggest contribution universities can make to the modern economy, Professor Barber’s primary focus is to further Flinders’ reputation for teaching and research excellence while exploring opportunities that will deliver the skills required by tomorrow’s labour market and society, both in Australia and internationally.
Professor Barber – who took up the Vice-Chancellor’s position on 1 January – said Flinders faces particular challenges in positioning itself to make the maximum contribution to the future of South Australia.
“I think there is an interesting challenge to adapt the Flinders that exists today in a way that engages with the directions of the ’new South Australia’ with its developments in the resources and defence sectors,” he said.
“The University is already more engaged with the defence and resource industries than many people recognise but we need to further strengthen the science and technology base at Flinders so that the University is better positioned to grasp more of the opportunities in the new South Australia. We need to work through this in a planned and deliberate way to find appropriate strategies to address it.”
Professor Barber said Flinders has a well deserved reputation for high quality, innovative teaching – a track record of achievement confirmed by numerous Carrick Awards and citations for teaching excellence. Flinders’ reputation also extends abroad with international student numbers increasing by more than 30% over the past three years (2004-06).
Professor Barber brought extensive experience in research, teaching and management to Flinders University.
In a 30 year academic career, Professor Barber held senior positions at the Australian National University (Professor of Mathematics, Dean of the Faculty of Science), University of Western Australia (Pro Vice-Chancellor-Research), and the University of New South Wales (Associate Professor in applied mathematics).
Prior to his appointment as Flinders’ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Barber was Group Executive, Information, Manufacturing and Minerals at the CSIRO.