‘Great leader’ says goodbye: Human side of Uni’s restructure
Professor Owen Nevin has been on the winning and losing side of a university restructure.
He arrived in Gladstone during the peak of the LNG boom and described the transition from living in the north of England as the head of the National School of Forestry as "extreme".
"I took over the campus leadership in a campus restructure in 2012 and I've handed it over in a restructure in 2020," he said.
The former Gladstone associate vice-chancellor accepted a redundancy package as part of Central Queensland University's response to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on higher education.
Based on finances and student numbers, he said there was "abundant indication" change was coming.
"Once you recognise that, it's just a case of what that change brings," he said.
The redundancy resulted in a shift in Prof Nevin's life to which he was unaccustomed.
"My life up until this point has been a progression through either being a student or being part of the training of students," he said.
Gladstone's only university has gone through a considerable transformation over the past eight years.
Prof Nevin remembers pioneering projects that have strengthened the university's role in the community.
Social innovation projects have targeted sheltered accommodation and a focus on the link between vocational training and higher education culminated in a new Trades Training Centre at the Marina campus.
He said the university's role in Gladstone was "not about building a prison" to keep young people in the region but opening their eyes to opportunities and drawing on advantages for disciplines such as engineering and marine science.
"The place really adds incredible value to the university and the university adds incredible value to the place," he said.
CQUniversity vice-chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said Prof Nevin would be missed by his colleagues in Gladstone and across Australia.
"We are extremely grateful for Owen's contribution to the university and the region, including his instrumental involvement in developing the new trades training facility on the Gladstone Marina campus and the work he did to help facilitate the establishment of the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre," Prof Klomp said.
"Owen has always put the university and the Gladstone region first. That's what made him a great leader.
"I am sure students will miss his presence on the campus."
Given the limited opportunities for a leadership position at universities in Central Queensland, Prof Nevin said if he did look for a similar position it would mean leaving Gladstone.
"But if I move away from a university role there are opportunities in this region, it is a beautiful place to live with great people," he said.
"For now, we're here, we're pondering options and we'll see what comes along."