Southern Cross University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Lee has rejected previous discussions about plans to merge with any other universities.
Southern Cross University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Lee has rejected previous discussions about plans to merge with any other universities. CATHY ADAMS

SCU 'abuzz' with good news

SOUTHERN Cross University will be worth more than an estimated $483 million to the regional economies of the Northern Rivers next year, according to new economic reports.

While details of the economic benefits for each region are not released until today, it is good news for the university’s new vice-chancellor Professor Peter Lee who has been at the helm for only two-and-a-half months.

“Southern Cross University’s trajectory is good,” he said.

The Lismore campus aimed to be the most research intensive university in Australia, he said.

Professor Lee has gone from ‘brown-to-green’ coming from Adelaide where he was deputy vice-chancellor at the University of South Australia to the ‘botanical paradise’ of Lismore.

It is the way education transforms lives that gives Professor Lee a buzz.

“I understand academic work because I’ve done it.”

Professor Lee’s academic record is extensive, spanning 30 years and includes an engineering degree. He was named a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering at an award ceremony last weekend.

He liked problem solving and his mother gave him puzzles to play with when he was two years old, he said.

“The puzzles are much more complex now – they have people in them,” he said.

Professor Lee isn’t fazed by the recent National Union of Students survey that rated Southern Cross University among the bottom five universities for student satisfaction. He is disappointed though, by the skew of the survey.

It didn’t acknowledge the difference between the ‘sandstone universities’ who had a high proportion of school leaver students, while Southern Cross University catered for a large number of external and mature-age students who had different needs, he said.

“For a university of this size we spent $10 million recently on student facilities,” he said.

Investing in online communities so external students can have ‘conversations’ was an important part of keeping the university’s virtual community connected.

Despite previous discussions, there were no plans to merge Southern Cross University with any other university, Professor Lee told The Northern Star.

Professor Lee and wife Janet have settled into Lismore Heights and after getting used to green tree frogs in the toilet, the only thing missing, he said, was finding a good coffee shop that was open on Sunday afternoons.



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