The Swinburne community has farewelled Vice-Chancellor Professor Linda Kristjanson AO after almost 10 years of service.
Guided by her vision to be a world-class university creating social and economic impact through science, technology and innovation, Swinburne has seen an exponential period of growth, innovation and industry engagement.
Under Professor Kristjanson’s leadership, Swinburne rose in the global rankings – now ranked in the top 400 universities in the world and as one of the top 50 young universities globally.
Expansion of teaching and learning
Established as a technical college in 1908 by George and Ethel Swinburne, Swinburne has continued to challenge old ways of thinking to create new ways of learning.
As part of Swinburne’s commitment to developing future-ready learners, the university launched a digital ecosystem focused on professional purpose, student-centred course design and work integrated learning.
This strategy included broadening the role of health education and research at Swinburne. We launched a suite of health sciences courses informed by digital innovation and design, and introduced a Bachelor of Nursing, as well as occupational therapy and physiotherapy, training a new generation of health professionals who are needed now more than ever before.
At Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus, a new Health Precinct was developed where students and researchers could access the latest facilities and technologies, including a dietetics teaching kitchen, motion tracking, augmented reality and virtual reality technology.
In 2015, Swinburne’s Law School was launched with many of our first cohort of graduates already going on to professional success.
Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has also been a constant focus throughout our teaching, learning and research over the last 10 years. Courses in this area have continued to adapt and change to reflect the needs of society.
An innovative approach to industry
Swinburne has long been a leader in connecting with industry, and under the stewardship of Professor Kristjanson, we have grown further.
We now offer more work placements and industry experiences to more students than at any time in our history.
Our students graduate with a professional purpose, job ready and adaptable to change.
We have deepened our relationships with industry, collaborating with leading companies, including Adobe, Capgemini, Wipro and CSIRO, to drive innovation and create impact.[NA1]
In 2019, Swinburne launched the Data for Social Good Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC) for Australia, powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon that provides cloud computing platforms and services.
The centre is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It uses innovative cloud technologies and intelligent data analytics to solve real-world health, wellbeing and social challenges affecting Australians now and into the future.
“Linda has set the scene and created a place where, through her caring, thoughtful, steely stewardship, we are poised to fearlessly help lead a society that must urgently form seamless bonds between future talent, industry 4.0 and what I call Society 5.0 a post-COVID society that must face up to the brutal truths facing our society balancing technological advances, and drives for economic growth with sustainability, inclusion and social equity,” said Swinburne Chancellor Professor John Pollaers OAM.
“On Linda’s watch, the university has leapt to the forefront of societal influence and through her leadership, we have led other universities into new models of connectivity and readiness for our ever-evolving workforce,” says Swinburne Chancellor Professor John Pollaers OAM.
A welcoming environment
In her time at Swinburne, Professor Kristjanson extended her reach beyond teaching, research and industry, positioning the university as a leader in gender equity, reconciliation and cultural diversity.
In October 2016, Professor Kristjan launched a suite of prestigious Vice Chancellor's Research Fellowships for women applicants in STEM. Four women were appointed in July 2017 and a fifth in October 2019. The Fellowships provide women with the opportunity to fully focus on research early in their careers.
Swinburne was also the first university in Australia to launch a Charter of Cultural Diversity and Cultural Diversity Objectives on 17 March 2017. A significant milestone for the university and the higher education sector that represents a commitment to cultural diversity within our community and broader society.
A passionate supporter of reconciliation, Professor Kristjanson led Swinburne to become the first higher education institution to achieve ‘elevate’ status for our second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
Through this RAP, a number of initiatives to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were launched along with two important events in the annual Swinburne calendar, the Reconciliation Lecture and the Barak-Wonga Oration.
A new chapter
In a virtual farewell event, staff and members of the Swinburne community offered their goodbyes as Professor Kristjanson reflected on her past while looking towards her future.
“The Swinburne of today is more agile, resilient and determined than ever before,” said Professor Kristjanson in her farewell address.
“Our people are compassionate, innovative and adaptable. I see your dedication. You have worked tirelessly to ensure our students continue to have a positive experience, our research programs continue to flourish and the university operates effectively.
“Your commitment to our university and to your colleagues sets Swinburne apart.”