Southern Cross Matters

"Southern Cross Matters is designed to help us stay in touch with key developments and our achievements as a University community."

Tyrone Carlin
Vice-Chancellor, Southern Cross University

Southern Cross Matters
Professor Tyrone Carlin
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice-Chancellor and President

From the Vice-Chancellor

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I am paying particularly close attention to what students who have experienced learning within the Southern Cross Model are saying about their experience of it. Their feedback has on balance been very encouraging but also contained suggestions that will be helpful to us as we continue to evolve and improve what we do.

One thing in particular that has struck me about the way that many students have described their experience of the Southern Cross Model is the sense that they can “see the finish line” in a way they never could in the traditional semester model and how this motivates them and gives them a sense of focus and confidence.

As I have reflected on this, it has seemed to me that one of the deeply challenging issues we face as a group of colleagues is that it can sometimes be very difficult to “see the finish line”. The tasks we have taken upon ourselves are profound, and very often the seeds we sow will not bear fruit for many years to come.

Yet there is a difference between the perfected form and something that though not perfect we can be confident represents a better us. We have taken it upon ourselves to work towards the creation of a University that more comprehensively and authentically engages our students in learning and drives them to greater opportunity and success – no matter their background. And we have taken it upon ourselves to more deeply entwine the vital work we do in research with our educational mission, and in so doing to more purposefully engage with industry and the community to drive impact from that research.

We are in the early stages of a long journey in which we will work with focus to commit and recommit to quality and to excellence and in so doing invigorate our professional lives, elevate the prospects of our students and anchor the next stage of development of our regions. These things are not achieved in a single season. They require a sustained sense of shared purpose and enormous diligence. They also require the humility to listen and the courage to objectively evaluate the evidence available to us and where required, admit failure – but then learn from that and move on.

We will carve out our place in the future not through giant leaps but through committing to many small steps. As we do this, I think it is important that we adopt the attitude of not letting the best be the enemy of the good. This is not about embracing the idea that what we have done is good enough, but rather, challenging ourselves to make positive strides that are good enough to allow us to take the next steps, and then the ones after that and then building the momentum to continue taking more positive steps forward.

We should not fear failing to reach immediate perfection, or indeed failing to reach perfection. Rather, we should rue the opportunities we lose each day by not taking the first positive step that is within our grasp, and then building on it.

More than anything else, I think the contents of this edition of Southern Cross Matters evoke that spirit – and I hope that you will really enjoy reading it and find it motivating.

Professor Tyrone M Carlin
Vice Chancellor and President


Aimee Andersen
Aimee Andersen, Educational Designer, Centre for Teaching and Learning

CTL teamwork for innovative learning solutions

For Aimee Andersen, an Educational Designer at Southern Cross University’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), supporting academics to deliver outcomes is all about team work.

She is part of a unique, diverse and dedicated team. Together with other CTL specialists such as Digital Designers, Curriculum Designers and Digital Technologists, Aimee partners with Faculty academics from across the University to co-design engaging and innovative learning opportunities for students.

It’s like a developmental engine room – a collegial effort with a shared focus on establishing the deep, active learning that underpins the Southern Cross Model and supports our students to succeed in their studies. It is also one of the areas of priority investment for the University.

"One example is that, working with the academics, we were tasked with creating active learning activities to test students’ knowledge of complex formulas and data analysis using Excel.

“As this type of activity would have traditionally been conducted in class, we needed to create learning opportunities that tested the students' knowledge of complex formulas and calculations with Excel in Blackboard,” Aimee explains.

In this case, the high level of student engagement points to a successful outcome.

Aimee works alongside people like her Digital Design colleague Ellie Magee-Jessup, who took on the challenge of developing interactive learning opportunities for a Scientific Data Management and Analysis unit.

“It involved transitioning from some complex in-class spreadsheet activities to online self-learning activities.

“But collaboratively finding the key objectives allowed us to narrow down a concise but engaging way for students to still explore the concepts,” Ellie says.

Their tailored, interactive solutions have helped keep students engaged with online learning as part of the adaptation to COVID-19 challenges.

It’s something Dr Lachlan Forsyth, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, is proud of.

“It’s been a pleasure to see the new Southern Cross Model emerge through these types of collaborations,” he says.

Dr Sharon Nisbet
Dr Sharen Nisbet

Southern Cross Model teaching a “no-brainer”

Out with the old in with the new – it’s really easy to get hooked on teaching in this way.

That’s how Dr Sharen Nesbit sums up what it’s like to teach within the New Southern Cross Model.

Since the beginning of the year, a number of courses have been delivered in the shorter, more focused unit structure of six teaching weeks, and it’s proving to be a winner for both staff and students.

Dr Nisbet’s been teaching in the model since day one.

“It allows teachers to keep the energy levels high. It’s a sprint not a marathon, so it’s a matter of go in hard and go in early,” said Dr Nisbet of her work teaching the Bachelor of Business and Enterprise.

“Previously, a lot of units were quite bloated and overblown. There’s a lot taught that doesn’t relate to the assessments. Students are assessment-focused but they’re (also) time-poor; they’re busy.

“By streamlining the process for students it’s streamlining it for teachers. To me it’s a no-brainer. It’s more interesting.”

Dr Nisbet works closely with the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) team who have been invaluable in designing and delivering specific activities to help with her teaching in an online environment. 

She’s now working on converting other units to the new model.

“My experience has been very positive with the model. It’s really easy to get hooked on teaching in this way. Units are well-curated, well-aligned and they make sense.”

Associate Professor Dirk Erler (right) and Dr Shane McIntosh inspect waste processing at Richmond Dairies
Associate Professor Dirk Erler (right) and Dr Shane McIntosh inspect waste processing at Richmond Dairies

SURF’s up and it’s all about being industry savvy

It could be described as riding a wave to success. SURF stands for the Strategic University Reform Fund and Southern Cross has secured $2 million to oversee a new innovative partnership with government, industry and business.

The idea is to create a more circular local economy by reducing production costs, regenerating resources into value-add materials, and enabling the creation of new jobs in the Northern Rivers region.

It’s a pilot program simply called the ReCirculator and will be overseen by Southern Cross researchers Professor Andrew Rose and Professor Dirk Erler.

“Both Andrew and Dirk have track records in the application of circular economy solutions with industrial organics waste emanating from food production,” says Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Mary Spongberg.

The pair know their way around the region having recently worked on projects with well-known local food processing businesses.

Based at the Lismore campus, their task will be to deliver four demonstration projects that apply circular economy principles in manufacturing, agriculture and food production.

“This grant allows us to take what we do at bench-scale, in a lab, and bridge the gap to that technology becoming implemented in reality,” said Professor Rose.

They’ll work closely with regional partners North East Waste, Lismore City Council, the Casino Food Co-op and Richmond Diaries.

“We actually care about the same things and we’re motivated by the same desire to create opportunities, to create a better place to live and that’s something unique about being a regional university,” said Professor Rose.

If catching the ReCirculator wave is successful over the next two years, the University will have the opportunity to apply for a further $10 million in federal funding.

Sculpture by Southern Cross Alumni Daniel Clemmett
A sculpture by Southern Cross Alumni Daniel Clemmett.

Swell time for Southern Cross

What do our Electric Kombi and coastal art have in common?

They were both part of this year’s Swell Sculpture Festival on the Gold Coast from September 10 to 19, that featured 65 large-scale contemporary sculptures installed on Currumbin Beach.

When it comes to sun, sand and surf, a VW Kombi is right at home. These days, restored Kombis are a common sight but ours is a bit different. Southern Cross University students and lead contractor EV Machina converted the 1976 machine to a state-of-the-art electric vehicle on Lismore campus.

The University partnered with the Swell organisers last month to showcase the long distance eco-friendly machine at Wallace Nicoll Park, with student ambassadors on hand to talk to festival-goers about the project and the University. Great exposure considering the event attracted 100,000 people.

The Southern Cross Electric Kombi is rapidly powering its way off the beach and into New South Wales classrooms as part of a curriculum unit package thanks to PhD researchers in the Faculty of Education, Simone Blom and Dave Ellis.

Also on display right next to the Kombi, a sculpture by Southern Cross Alumni Daniel Clemmett.

Did you know?

Lecturer (Level B):

  • Elizabeth Goode, SCU College
  • Luke Jeffrey, Faculty Science and Engineering
  • Mitchell Longstaff, Faculty of Health
  • Cooper Schouten, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Maggie Scorey, Faculty of Health

Senior Lecturer (Level C):

  • Leticia Anderson, Faculty of Business, Law and Arts
  • Amanda Hughes, Faculty of Business, Law and Arts
  • Benjamin Mos, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Kirstine Shrubsole, Faculty of Health
  • Golam Sorwar, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Associate Professor (Level D):

  • Richard Lakeman, Faculty of Health
  • Raina Mason, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Paul Orrock, Faculty of Health
  • Suzi Syme¸ SCU College

Professor (Level E):

  • Dirk Erler

Welcome to the team

Cynthia Briggs,
Lecturer, Gnibi College Indigenous Australian Peoples

Jo Brodie,
Project Manager, Reef Restoration and Adaption Sub-Program, National Marine Science Centre

Katrina Crellin,
Business Partner, HR Services

Ashleigh Edwards,
Executive Officer, Office of VP (Engagement)

Tom Foster,
Manager, Application Services, Technology Services

Ben Giles,
Technology Support Officer, Technology Services

Renee Hogben,
Professional Experience Coordinator, Faculty of Education

Kristy Hume,
Manager, Client Services, HR Services

Isaac Jurjens,
Applications Delivery and Support Officer, Technology Services

Gill Mathews,
Project Manager, Digital Experience, Office of Engagement

Alexandra Ordonez Alvarez,
Research Associate, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Mustafa Ucgul,
Lecturer, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Jennifer Williams,
Future Student Officer, Office of Engagement