Q&A with Professor Geoff McColl: His first ten weeks

Ten weeks have passed since Professor Geoff McColl joined us as at the Faculty of Medicine as  Executive Dean. We caught up with Geoff to reflect on his first couple of months and he discussed a number of key topics including our strategic plan, research themes, Faculty governance, and exciting new plans for the Mayne Medical Building.

Thanks for making some time for us today Geoff. First question, how are you finding Brisbane?

Kathy and I have felt incredibly welcomed and the weather is definitely better than Melbourne. The traffic is better (except maybe coronation Drive), and we're finding it a fantastic place to live and to work.

And how are you finding UQ? A bit different to the University of Melbourne?

Oh look, I think UQ has great similarities to the University of Melbourne. An extraordinary talented group of professional and academic staff who are really doing a great job.

We’re connected to an amazing group of key stakeholders and partners within our health services and MRIs and an also fantastic infrastructure. Now some of it’s full and some of it needs a little bit more filling but what an amazing resource to start with.

Anything you’ve seen that worries you?

Look I think we can make the connections a bit stronger. I think there are parts of the Faculty and our connections that are not as collaborative as I might like and I'd like to work on that.

Have you identified any things you're looking to change?

I think governance is always an important part of making a Faculty or any institution work and at the moment I am looking at our governance. I'm not proposing major change - I'm expecting that the Faculty Executive Committee will be the place in which we'll make our decisions. But we’ll be informed by existing committees and some new committees that will allow us to make informed and sensible decisions

I'm particularly interested in how we engage with our indigenous community and probably also thinking about our international connections

And those changes aim to improve both teaching and research across the board?

So our mission is in the three core areas: our teaching mission, our research mission our and our engagement and advocacy. I think that connects together very well.

I understand there have been some updates on the teaching and research projects identified in wave one of the strategic plan?

The strategic plan has been a great blueprint for me to work with and the professional and academic staff who have been working on the individual projects have done a fantastic job

Those projects came to the executive a couple of weeks ago and essentially, we've endorsed a great majority of the decisions that were made.

There are some particular things that I'm really pleased about. The first is the appointment of research facilitators that will sit within the org units and the roles will be fashioned by those org units into people that will assist in getting the grants and getting the opportunities we are to do our research.

There's have been a long discussion about research themes within the Faculty. We've identified our strengths within our org units and I think that's a great thing. Whether they need to be distilled up into a smaller number of faculty themes? I'm not quite so certain but that's something we'll work on over the next few years

In teaching, we need to value our teachers and at the moment one of the projects going forward is around enhancing skills of those teachers - possibly through a clinical teaching module done in collaboration with the University.

But we also need to reward our teachers and there's a program that sits within that as well.

So that's teaching and research, there's also the enabling projects. Is there an update on those projects?

So there's been considerable change in the way the professional staff have work within the Faculty over the last year. We need to enhance the employee experience within the Faculty and also within our connections to central so we want to generate new ideas about the way we can simplify, harmonise, optimise our processes within the university. Marni Jacoby will be leading a project that will be looking at that and hopefully has some great outcomes.  

Outside of those project outcomes, do you have any general updates for staff?

We're sitting here in the Mayne Medical Building and I'm pleased to announce that we will be refurbishing this building over the next 12 months. On the ground floor, there’ll be executive offices and upstairs on level four there'll be a new function space. We'll be able to have large alumni events and other key events for our partners associated with the Faculty and there will be more info to share on that soon.

There's obviously a lot of history in the building, is there plans to incorporate that history into the future of the building?

Medical history museums in my experiences are a great and important part of Medical School, so we need to use the resource of that medical history or museum a lot more.

Perhaps some professional curation of some of the items, catalogues - a connection to our alumni. I think it's a powerful part of our engagement strategy.

And when should we expect to see some changes happening to the building?

I think the work will hopefully begin within the next few months and be completed within about a year.

And speaking of changes, we have one of our Faculty Executives departing?

Yes, Professor Sean Emery leaves to go to a very senior role at the University of New South Wales and I'd like to thank Sean for his work over the past 18 months. I've not known him terribly long. But he's a man with great passion and intelligence and I think he's served the Faculty incredibly well and I thank him for that role and wish him the very best for his next role with the University of New South Wales.

And talking about wishing people well and acknowledging great work. We've just launched nominations for the staff excellence awards. Anything you’d like to say about nominating people around the Faculty?

I encourage everyone to nominate into these Faculty Excellence Awards. It's important that we acknowledge the great work of both professional staff and academic staff. There's a lot to be celebrated and let's make sure there are lots of nominations sent in.

I think that's a nice note to finish on, thanks for your time Geoff.

Not a problem, thank you.



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