It’s been a touch over two years since I joined the Faculty of Medicine in the combined role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Acting Executive Dean, and in mid-June, I’ll hand the baton for the latter role to our new Executive Dean, Professor Geoff McColl.

Like any role, there’s been plenty of ups and downs. But there are a few key moments I’ll remember long after I’ve boarded my plane southwards to take up a new role at The University of Sydney.

Memories of my first few weeks at the Faculty will certainly stay with me. I spent around 60 hours in face-to-face discussions with staff, students, alumni and health partners. This frenetic beginning was just the baptism of fire I needed. Those conversations helped me understand the Faculty, what had happened in the past and what we could do to position ourselves for future success.

The recruitment of some excellent people and the re-engagement and return of others to join a wonderful group of emerging leaders in education and research was another gratifying highlight. This diverse, very talented and widely dispersed group are well positioned to continue the journey we’ve been on for the last two years.

In education, establishing the new St Lucia Clinical Unit finally provided a home base for our Phase 1 medical students. This space will shortly be complemented by the newly renovated space in the School of Biomedical Sciences – providing students from across our Faculty with a place to meet, study and directly access our student administration team.

But if I had to identify the most satisfying project of the last couple of years, it would have to be the way we’ve come together to formulate a strategic plan for the Faculty.

We brought together a group of people who weren’t used to working together and, at least initially, were quite hesitant in the way they shared information. Over 12 months, this group transformed into a unified collective, comfortable with each other once they realised they shared similar goals. The outcome has been a comprehensive but achievable ten-year strategic plan.

Overall, the plan strives to see the various parts of the Faculty focused and working together to make a lasting, material difference to the health of people in Australia and abroad. As important as our ambition, was a unified view of our values and attributes – a recommitment to each other and the way we conduct ourselves as a faculty. Underpinning this commitment is the recognition that equal value must be placed on our education and research enterprises, along with the disciplines that support them. This will ensure UQ’s Faculty of Medicine is well positioned to serve our community in a balanced and powerful manner.

With any leadership change, there is speculation that the incoming leader might change direction. Undoubtedly there will be new initiatives and ideas introduced. But for the first time in a long time, we have a strategy born from Faculty-wide input, and leaders across our schools and centres understand what is needed to realise it. Having known the incoming Executive Dean for a long time, I know the future is in great hands.

I first met Geoff about 14 years ago when we were both on the Commonwealth’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PABC). We instantly hit it off. We had a lot of thinking in common and he’s been a great colleague and friend over the years, although we were banned from sitting together at PABC meetings because we talked too much. It’s probably a good thing we’re not both here at UQ at the same time!

Geoff is well-known to the medical community for his experience and dedication to the health services, and for the successful development and implementation of the Melbourne MD.

The Faculty will benefit greatly from a leader with rich educational experience, and I know Geoff is going to be a great asset for UQ.

He will be moving in at Herston in mid-June and, speaking from experience (moving from Sydney to Brisbane during January), I think he’s made a wise decision to relocate to Queensland in winter.

I’d like to finish by thanking the Faculty of Medicine community for your honest conversations, hard work and friendship over the last couple of years. It’s been a challenging and rewarding period that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and I look forward to watching the Faculty go from strength to strength over the coming years.



For more stories from across the Faculty of Medicine, visit MayneStream, our content hub.