Published on 3 April 2014
The University of the Sunshine Coast has appointed Professor Karen Nelson as its inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor for Students.
Professor Nelson, who will be responsible for USC’s Student Administration, Student Life and Learning and the Academic Secretariat and who will chair the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee, is currently the Director of Student Success and Retention at Queensland University of Technology.
She is also a Professor of Higher Education in QUT’s Learning and Teaching Unit, and has held academic positions at that university since 2000. Her research focus has been on enabling student learning engagement, the first-year experience and institutional information and knowledge management practices.
Professor Nelson said her new role at USC, which will begin in late-April, was aimed at providing better opportunities for students to fulfil their ambitions.
“I’ll be looking at the whole spectrum of university programs and processes that are designed to engender high levels of student engagement and offer challenging learning opportunities,” she said.
“The goal is to create an environment that helps students engage with learning and that leads to successful learning experiences and a sense of achievement.”
Professor Nelson said she would work to enhance student engagement and retention and help promote the University as an established, progressive higher education institution that’s held in high regard across the sector.
“I’ll be using both my own research and research from around the globe with a focus on what works. I’ll be going about this work in a traditional academic way,” she said.
“But I won’t just be transferring what has worked at QUT to USC. I’ll be looking for context-specific programs and practices that are suitable for USC.”
USC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Birgit Lohmann said USC was delighted to welcome Professor Nelson into the new Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) role.
“Professor Nelson is a nationally and internationally acknowledged expert in student engagement and student retention and success,” she said. “Her experience and expertise will be invaluable in supporting the University’s goals in continual improvement in these areas.
“Having a Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) at USC will help bring together all the good work that is currently in place and provide a focus for further collaboration and innovation at USC to support student success.
“Professor Nelson’s contributions to higher education have been recognised by more than 10 national and institutional awards, including a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence from QUT in 2012.”
— Terry Walsh