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New Pro Vice Chancellor for Arts and Sciences


Brigid Veale
22 November 2010
The contribution a regional university makes to its community and the opportunities provided by a faculty that incorporates the arts, health and science are among the attractions of Southern Cross University for Professor Deborah Saltman, the new Pro Vice Chancellor (Arts and Sciences).

Professor Saltman took up her position recently, following the retirement of the previous Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Jenny Graham, who was farewelled at a function in October.

Professor Saltman, a general practitioner, has had a long and distinguished career in education, health and clinical practice with more than 20 years experience in leadership positions in academic medicine and delivering education programs for health workers in Europe, Asia and Australia. She was most recently Professor of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Professor Saltman said she was looking forward to strengthening and developing research and the connection with the community.

"Southern Cross University is brilliantly placed and has a strong and capable executive team – the population is growing and there is opportunity to expand. This is a great university that is well established in its community and it really does show what a regional university can do and how it can influence a region," Professor Saltman said.

"It's also a fabulous faculty. It's got everything from a writers festival to an aquarium to forests to nurse practitioners. It's a wonderful opportunity to get some synergies across a beautiful faculty that's well organised and which has students who like coming to it.

"Having Gnibi (School of Indigenous Australian Peoples) and such a strong Indigenous focus is just a gem."

Top of her list of goals is research and translating that research so it is understood by people within the community.

"Research for me is offering leadership in thinking about the world and from thinking, doing right. That's why research is important. It's about knowing how to ask a question and know the question you ask has some component that is answerable and translatable to the community.

"We want to ensure our students are thinkers when they leave, and then they will be doers. Every academic should be involved in that and helping our communities.

"We have had a dumbing down in society. I think information technology has just exploded and people have made information synonymous with learning and scholarship and it's not.

"Universities should be the brokers of helping people translate the information to a level where they can synthesise it in a really interesting, important and research or question driven way."

The move to the North Coast is not completely new to Professor Saltman, who during her time at the University of Sydney was involved in the establishment of the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health in Lismore. She has also been a regular visitor, making use of a holiday house at Brunswick Heads and she has worked in East Timor with the federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin.

"I have a long association with this area. I know people and I like the area. People are open to things, and yet they are quite understanding of the environment and that's a good feature."

Professor Saltman said she was looking forward to developing a number of forums involving community and professional organisations, particularly in the health field.

Professor Saltman is a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal Australian College of Physicians and Fellow Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. She has a Doctorate of Medicine, University of New South Wales, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, University of Sydney.

She was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2004, and was awarded the Rose Hunt Medal RCGP in 2006. She has held senior editorial positions in more than a dozen journals and has worked with the pharmaceutical industry both as a consultant and Departmental Director for two top 10 international pharmaceutical companies.

Professor Deborah Saltman is the new Pro Vice Chancellor (Arts and Sciences) at Southern Cross University.