Forever grateful for the experience, departing leader reflects

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Professor Heather Cavanagh thanked by Interim Vice-Chancellor for her achievements in the many portfolios and projects she led at Charles Sturt University

  • Professor Heather Cavanagh thanked by Interim Vice-Chancellor for her achievements in the many portfolios and projects she led at Charles Sturt University
  • Professor Cavanagh reflects on her 23-year career at Charles Sturt, forever grateful to those who ‘pushed’ her to play a pivotal role in the University’s growth
  • Career highlights include appointment as an expert member on the Australian Government Council for International Education, the establishment of the University in Port Macquarie, the development of the AgriPark in Wagga Wagga, and the pilot of the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

Arriving at Charles Sturt University 23 years ago as a pure molecular virologist, the now-Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Engagement) Professor Heather Cavanagh, had moved from a very large virology department in the UK, to being the only virologist at the University.

This was just one of many moments at Charles Sturt when Professor Cavanagh was outside her comfort zone, initially as a researcher and then as a senior leader on many pivotal University projects.

“Those (individual) ‘pushes’ took me into the roles of Sub-Dean International, then Deputy Dean and then Head of Campus at Port Macquarie – and of course ultimately to DVC Research and Engagement,” Professor Cavanagh said..

“I will be forever grateful to those leaders who insisted in pushing me to continually gain experience in new areas and take on more senior roles,” she said.

Professor Cavanagh said the University had changed in many ways during her time, embracing the ‘one university’ approach across multiple campuses, and the recognition that the Wiradjuri phrase ‘Yindyamarra Winhanganha’ captured as the ethos and spirit of Charles Sturt University, were pivotal events.

“These events have shaped the University into what it is becoming – a university that will make a real difference in our regions and across the world.”

“I say ‘becoming’ only because I passionately believe that this University has so much potential and will continue to grow, shine and make a real contribution to our region, our country and our world through both education and research,” Professor Cavanagh said.  

Charles Sturt Interim Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov said in Professor Cavanagh’s 23 years at the University her roles included Sub-Dean (International), Associate Dean, Acting Executive Dean, and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement – Research and Partnerships).

In that time she helped steer the University’s Research Committee; AgriSciences Research and Business Park Steering Committee; and Reconciliation Action Plan Steering Committee, among other bodies and projects.

“Her service to, and passion for, international education was recognised through her appointment to the Australian Government Council for International Education in 2018,” Professor Germov added.

“On behalf of the University, I would like to thank Professor Cavanagh for her service to Charles Sturt, acknowledge her achievements in the portfolios and projects she has led, and wish her all the best for the future.”

Professor Cavanagh said the highlight of her time at Charles Sturt is the amazing staff that she had the honour and privilege to work with over the years.

“Staff at this University genuinely care about their students, their region, their communities (local and international), and their potential to impact people’s lives for the better,” she said.

Professor Cavanagh added that she had no intention of retiring and intended to concentrate on work that would use her skills and expertise to make a real difference.

“Everyone at Charles Sturt University who knows me will know how important ‘impact’ and playing my part in helping make this world worth living in are to me. Initially that will probably be through select Board, project and/or consultancy work. I will also continue my current community work through Rotary and other local initiatives,” she said.

Period25 Feb 2021

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