Meet RMIT's Chair of Academic Board
Ella Gvildys chats to Professor Mark McMillan about his new role.
Ella: What are your ambitions in this role?
Mark: As Chair of the Academic Board my biggest ambition is to understand inclusion and how do we bring people who would otherwise be at the margins of having a particular voice in academic governance and also making sure that that voice is heard not just in the board itself but across academic governance and I think that's where we'll probably get most of the exciting innovation is where people who might not have had a voice start to be heard.
Ella: How are you going to balance this through full-time indigenous education and engagement role?
Mark: I think working with the university because to actually say those both of those roles are important so it's not saying one will be lost to the other so we had we put support mechanisms around the Indigenous Education and Engagement spaces so that the functions of what I needed to be able to do will still be enlivened it might just mean that it won't be me driving them it will still be the privilege of still being able to lead it just not having to do everything and we've got more than capable Aboriginal staff to be able to assume greater leadership responsibilities. When it comes to the Chair of Academic Board the fact that the university is maturing in how it sees academic governance because historically that it's never been given a time fraction. So in discussion about how that is properly resourced not just as money but how do we achieve the function in a halftime roll is really an exciting development as well so there'll be no trade-offs I think this is all about the maturing of the institution valuing not just Indigenous Education and Engagement but valuing academic governance differently and that's I think a really positive signal of the institution's maturity in both of those spaces.
Ella: Why is Academic board such an important part of RMIT?
Mark: As a university, academic governance and the academic endeavour is central to what we are. Without academic governance and the academic endeavour we are functionally not a university and it's not just about what the University Act says that we have to do, it's more about the principles of how has a university has been historically organized and one of those things about organisation is the academic endeavour, the advancement of knowledge, the teaching and learning, the research are all aspects of what it means to be a University and that started with Aristotle in approach to knowledge and knowledge shouldn't be fettered by government or or society and it's got to be a place where the academic endeavour, that quest for advancing knowledge for social purpose not for merely knowledges sake that I get particularly excited about what is Academic Board and why we need a strong functioning inclusive Academic Board. It's to fundamentally retain the identity as a university without academic identity and academic endeavour we're not at university. It's to support the RMIT University Act in achieving our function and our objects and that the construction of the Act is built on a really strong academic board as part of the governance apparatus. When we think of the RMIT University act there's three things that the University Council must do and one of those things is establish an Academic Board, as well as appoint the Vice-Chancellor and do all of those other things that are it's required to achieve the objects but the establishment of an Academic Board is more about how we know ourselves as a university and how do we start to participate in that. So I think it's my nerdy lawyer background also means that I'm particularly interested in governance from a legal perspective and that and it's through that legal perspective that we achieve social justice because we put social justice at the forefront of our Academic Board because that's what the access what we have to do.
Ella: If teenage Mark could see you now, what would you say to him?
Mark: Oh so many things, I think it would be listen, I think the thing I've learnt as I've got older is to value what people have to say whenever they're saying it. You know I've spent a lot of misspent youth in 20s and 30s always thinking that you've got to fight your voice is that your weapon rather than go you know what the biggest tool we have is our ears.
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