Farewell to Professor Mike Calford
The role of a Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research in a world-class institution such as UoN is one of the toughest in the sector. Navigating changes in the external landscape, responding to intense competition in all research arenas with innovation, strategy and the ‘street smarts’ required to keep your university in the mix with global competitors makes for long, intense and unrelenting days. This is in addition to staying across national industry priorities, adapting strategies in the face of seismic shifts in policy not to mention running a portfolio worth in excess of $100 million to the University. I speak from personal experience when I say the DVC Research has as tough a gig as any VC.
Professor Mike Calford is an outstanding DVC Research who has consistently delivered remarkable results for the University. Mike has led the compilation of two great submissions from the University to the Excellence in Research in Australia (ERA) national assessment exercises in 2010 and 2012. Through Mike’s leadership, ERA rated UoN in the top research universities in the country. In 2012, we achieved a ‘5’ rating of ‘well above world standard’ for 18 areas of research placing us equal 7th in the country, and 90% of all fields of research submitted for assessment by UoN received a ‘3’ rating ‘at world standard’ or higher.
Building a global reputation is not possible without a world-class performance and Mike has ensured any one of us can walk into a prestigious university anywhere in the world and know that we can be confident in our reception. One of Mike’s greatest achievements as DVC Research was to establish one of our flagship research centres, the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), and to secure $30 million in Education Infrastructure Fund to redevelop the NIER site. It is this vision, foresight and strategy that has made Mike an outstanding DVC Research - a talent that we will greatly miss. After a remarkable four year ‘tour of duty’ in the role of DVC (Research) where he built Newcastle’s research profile to rank among the best performing institutions across Australia and the world, Mike has decided that it is time to return to his passion for health research to head up the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute.
Prior to taking up the role as DVC Research, Mike was Pro Vice-Chancellor in the Faculty of Health for three years. Mike played a central role in securing $35 million towards the construction of the new Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) building and was the driving force behind the establishment of the Australian first Joint Medical Program. He also led the establishment of the country’s inaugural masters in Pharmacy degree and he greatly expanded our Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health at the University’s Orange campus.
I know that people in all different parts of the University who have worked with, been supported by and engaged with Mike know what a great loss this will be for us. In my first year in the University, Mike’s great insight, advice, unswerving loyalty to the institution and understated but wicked sense of humour have been life savers at key moments. Mike’s insight will also be missed by his colleagues in the IRU and in the national DVCs’ group, where he has been lead convenor for the past two years. When the sector faces complex and tricky issues Mike is regularly called in to provide clarity and confidence and deliver a solution acceptable to all parties.
Mike will leave the University in July and we will of course throw a party of great proportions for ‘one of our own’. I know that in his new role our paths will cross many times as we each traverse the state and I very much look forward to catching up with him to compare notes and share insights. On behalf of all of his friends and colleagues across the University I wish Mike and his wife Karin every best wish for this next phase in the career of a remarkable leading researcher - and research leader.
15 March 2013