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Professor Richard Dunford begins interim Executive Dean appointment 


Media and Content,
9 August 2022

Professor Richard Dunford has joined Southern Cross University as Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts. 

The six-month appointment began on August 1 and is the next phase of an outstanding career that has featured senior leadership roles across education, industry, research and business. 

Among Professor Dunford's stated goals are to: 

  • work with all Faculty staff to deliver on programs, develop research and engage externally; 
  • contribute to the navigation of University-wide issues that will impact the Faculty and beyond; 
  • ensure the Faculty is in the best possible shape to provide a smooth transition for the incoming Executive Dean when he or she is appointed. 

While Professor Dunford is firm in saying he holds no ambitions for the Executive Dean role beyond the interim, he is confident that his long and broad experience brings an understanding of, and strength of purpose to, the task before him at Southern Cross University. 

“Having worked in a number of different universities, both metropolitan and regional, I’ve become very aware that common patterns and concerns coexist with the specific nuances of individual institutions,” he said. 

"Recognising the former can be helpful, but failure to also be aware of the latter can lead to an unhelpful ‘cookie cutter’ approach to dealing with matters. 

"No Faculty should sit static for six months, so I see this as a key role to keep current initiatives going and, where necessary, to introduce new policies and practices where it would be ill-advised to not make changes.” 

Southern Cross University is the latest phase in Professor Dunford’s esteemed career, highlighted by leadership positions at the University of Newcastle (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Business & Law), Macquarie University, the University of Sydney, and the University of New South Wales. 

At national level, he has been active as a member of research assessment panels, most recently as the Chair of the Social Science Panel in the Australian Research Council's Engagement and Impact (EI) process. He was also twice a member of the Business Panel for Excellence in Research, Australia (ERA). Widely published, he has been the recipient of multiple ARC grants. 

Internationally, Professor Dunford has served on business school accreditation panels in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia. His career has also involved a high level of industry contact, both through applied research projects and a long record of consulting and delivering executive development programs. 

Professor Dunford was attracted to Southern Cross University in light of opportunities and challenges arising from the dynamic environment provided by the Northern Rivers and Gold Coast regions. A major and ongoing factor is the unique nature of the University’s role in the aftermath of the 2022 floods. 

"Not many universities in the world, let alone in Australia, have faced something as traumatic as the flooding in Lismore, unless you include war zones," he said. 

"How the University has stepped up as a community member has manifested in a contribution that goes beyond education. It is action beyond words and, as well as supporting the recovery of the region, it shows students that their university is materially contributing to the development of business, the community and the region. 

"From a Faculty-wide perspective, our resources and capabilities can help in rejuvenating and running businesses, programs and initiatives, embracing entrepreneurialism, and developing capabilities. It is also important to have such guidance and strategies in place for when the new Executive Dean arrives." 

Despite the demands of a six-month appointment, Professor Dunford is eager to make the most of life outside the University. 

“I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to live in this part of the country for the next six months,” he said. 

"Like a lot of Australians, I’ve only experienced the Northern Rivers and the Gold Coast through the fleeting perspective of a holiday-maker, so I’m looking forward to a more enduring engagement with such a great part of Australia.”