5 Questions with the Chair and Deputy Chair of Academic Senate

To get to know the new Chair and Deputy Chair of Academic Senate two of our student senators sat down with them by the lake on campus to get to know more about them and their journey from university student to Academic.

1. What’s a memorable moment from your experience as a university student?

Jackie – I studied vet science and my first experience of ‘active’ governance was as a student in second year, being part of a group that put in rather passionate feedback about a unit – looking back that may have been a vision of things to come!  

I also had a research scholarship at Cornell University, NY. It was a life changing event and probably began my path to becoming an Academic. After working as a vet for two years I looked at several options including becoming a specialist but ended up going into research, doing my PhD at the ANU. I worked in NZ and then Perth and when the Macquarie Medical School opened, the opportunity was too good to pass up.

Wylie – I grew up in Newcastle, and went to the University of Newcastle, studying economics. I remember in my first year I went to a Department seminar. The visiting Academic was Australian but had come to visit from the UK. The seminar was about the history of economic thought and at the time, while I didn’t know any of the names he was talking about, I was entranced by the exchange of ideas.

I did honours and then worked at Newcastle as a staff member. That same Academic came back and I got a scholarship to do a PhD with him as my supervisor in the UK. He also become a great mentor and friend. The lesson to take from that is that there are a lot of intellectual resources in a University, people sharing ideas from all over the world, so take all the opportunities you can to get involved. I am interested in ancient history, so when I can, I go to seminars in ancient history. That’s what set me up for being an academic – those experiences in sharing ideas.

2. How long have each of you been working at Macquarie? At what point did you get involved with Academic Senate?

Jackie – I’ve been working at Macquarie since 2009. In 2013 I was elected to Academic Senate as a Faculty representative, then in 2015 I took on the position as Deputy Chair.

Wylie – I came to Macquarie in 1996, and joined Academic Senate in 2010 as a Faculty representative. I was a member for three terms 2010 – 2016, which is the limit for consecutive terms, I took a break, and then was re-elected in 2018.

3. How would you describe the work of Senate, and the relevance to students?

Wylie – For students, the work of Academic Senate is all about your learning experience by creating and maintaining the structure of what happens in your studies.  But we don’t just oversee rules  – we are conduit for new ideas. As a member of the teaching leadership job family, I see how what happens at Senate impacts teaching.

Jackie – The work of Senate is to ensure we have really high quality standards for learning, teaching and research. Some people might think of it as being all about policies and procedures, and these are important, but what is behind that is making sure we are always striving for best practice, informed by what is happening at Macquarie as well as from examples of best practice across the world.

4. What is an issue faced by students today that Academic Senate engages with?

Wylie –  The obvious example at the moment is COVID. We have this situation where we have a massive challenge to the way we do things and we had to change, fast. Senate spent a lot of time going over changes to policies to best respond to the needs of students and staff.

Jenni – What kind of student feedback have you received on the response to COVID-19?

Jackie –We have been getting feedback from a lot of different areas –unit level, course level and university surveys. Staff and students have identified positives as well as challenges.  Senate will play a key role in reviewing what has happened and its impact on the quality of learning and teaching including the impact on HDR students.

5. What’s your favourite place on the Macquarie campus?

Wylie – There are two. One is room 209 in the building that used to be called C5C. Back in 1990, I was still in Newcastle and exploring options to study overseas.  I had to sit the GRE exam but the test was held at Macquarie, so I came down and had to find the room it was held in – room 209, C5C. Later when I started working at Macquarie, I taught in that very room!

The other is here by the lake. I used to bring my daughter to day-care at Mia Mia, and we would spend time here. More recently when I got my dog – a mini fox terrier x dachshund, I would bring him down to the lake for a walk. So I have a lot of fond memories.

Jackie – I also have two. One is the outdoor pool where I swim regularly.  It’s a place of calm and stress relief.  The second is the Fauna Park. They have all these amazing animals tucked away. I still am licenced as a vet and that part of me loves going there.

Professor Jacqueline Phillips, a neuroscience researcher in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, took on role of the Chair of Academic Senate in August 2020, and

Associate Professor Wylie Bradford an economics lecturer in the Macquarie Business School, was elected as the new Deputy Chair.

They were interviewed by

Jenni Zoue, an undergraduate economics student in the Macquarie Business School, outgoing undergraduate representative for MQBS and

Sayantani Chatterjee, a PhD candidate in Molecular Sciences in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, the outgoing HDR representative

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