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Strategy and vision

Another term

In August 1992, after the mergers had occurred, Peter Darvall wrote to Vice-Chancellor Logan regarding the ‘deanship of engineering’. He informed Logan that while his initial five-year appointment as Dean of Engineering was drawing to a close, he was very interested in being reappointed for a further term. He wrote:

I am proud to be Dean of such a fine Faculty, although the position has become much more demanding and stressful since I took office. There is an inexhaustible supply of challenges in quality enhancement, new initiatives, diversity, rationalisation and in providing appropriate resources for all our enterprises.

Despite the exhaustion and level of stress, Darvall was keen to lead the Faculty for another five years. But, he was also eager to establish whether or not he had the support of the staff to do so. A short questionnaire was distributed to some of the Faculty staff, candidly seeking feedback on whether or not he should be reappointed. Of the 38 individuals who responded, all agreed, without hesitation, that Darvall should stay on. Associate Dean at the time, Bill Brown, wrote to Vice-Chancellor Logan in support of Darvall. He reported that he had ‘consulted with several departmental Heads who agreed with me that Professor Darvall is doing an excellent job and that support for his re-appointment for a further five year term is very strong’,

Darvall was eager to be reappointed and the Faculty clearly supported his intention to do so – there really seemed to be no question that he would continue as Dean. Accordingly Darvall was invited to accept another term as Dean, starting in 1993. The news was received positively. Despite the change and turmoil, there was an overwhelmingly positive vibe within the Faculty.

It was at this time of reappointment that Darvall’s attention was also being drawn away from the Faculty and towards the University’s central administration, which was undergoing a great deal of change. While he accepted the reappointment to the deanship, he also began to take on additional University responsibilities. He became the University’s part time industry liaison person and also became involved in the Berwick campus and continuing education.

By April 1993 Darvall was both Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and a University Pro Vice-Chancellor, this also for a five year term. It was a fractional appointment – technically only one third of his working week was to be taken up with his Pro Vice-Chancellor duties. But by June 1993 the situation had changed again. One third had become one half and instead of Pro Vice-Chancellor, he had become Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research). During this period the role of Bill Brown, who was Associate Dean to Darvall and therefore acted for the Dean in his absence, was particularly important. Despite his intentions, Darvall had less and less time to spend leading the Faculty. Without Brown’s steady hand and leadership during this period, the Faculty would not have been able to function as it did.

On paper, the equally split Dean and Deputy Vice-Chancellor arrangement was temporary. At the end of December 1993 Darvall would return to the combination of Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor. However, after several months of acting in the position, he applied for the permanent position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) when it was advertised at the end of 1993. Darvall was successful, and commenced this role full time in April 1994. As a result, after a highly productive and influential period as Dean of Engineering, Peter Darvall stepped down and his deanship came to an official end.