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Meet Provost Professor Helen Huntly

Meet Provost Professor Helen Huntly

Published:08 March 2018

CQUniversity Provost Professor Helen Huntly

Meet one of CQUni’s inspiring women. Professor HELEN HUNTLY OAM is CQUni’s Provost. Helen has been with CQUni for nearly 30 years, taking up the appointment as Provost in late 2016. She was the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (VET), Dean of the School of Education and the Arts, was a senior manager in Higher Education, and prior to that, a teacher in the vocational and secondary education sectors. Today, her responsibilities include leading and driving the University’s academic strategic and operational agendas.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Becoming the provost at CQUni. This is a role that I am most privileged and honoured to undertake, and is definitely a career highlight. I am delighted to be able to influence the educational operations of the university, and to contribute to the broader operations of the University. Last year’s OAM award for service to tertiary education in Central Queensland was also pretty special.

As one of CQUni’s inspirational women, who has inspired you in life? Why?

By leading through example, my parents taught me at quite an early age that everyone has a responsibility to ‘give back’ to their communities. I was also inspired by the two primary teachers I had at my rural one-teacher school (one for years 1 to 3 and the other for years 4 to 7). On reflection, they were far ahead of their time in the skill of engaging students in their learning. They reinforced my already strong desire to be a great teacher!

Who was your childhood hero and why?

I don’t recall actually having a hero, but I do remember our family hosting (on the farm) a husband and wife team who were totally blind and were assisted by guide dogs. This was my first experience with blind people and I remember admiring their ability (no focus on disability) to get things done and to cope just as well as we people with perfect eyesight. A great life experience for a young child.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would ensure that every child, regardless of their geography, ethnicity, gender or socio-economic background, had genuine access to sufficient nutrition and a great education. That’s probably TWO things, but the world needs both.

What’s the biggest way a student has surprised or inspired you?

Early in my career, I supported a young pre-service teacher who was diagnosed (mid-degree) with a physically debilitating medical condition. It would have been easy for her to drop out and find a less-challenging profession or job, but she persisted. She really wanted to be a teacher. I admired her tenacity and provided support and assistance where I could. She graduated, is an excellent teacher, and is an inspiration to her students. Down the track a few years, I was thrilled to be the chairperson at her wedding!

How do you think women are making an impact on education in Australia?

Let me use the example of my daughters who are both teachers. Amy works as a deputy principal in a VERY remote Queensland secondary college, and Kelsie is currently volunteering (for 6 months) in community schools in under-developed countries. Both have a strong desire to contribute ‘beyond the school fence’. Both are also graduates of CQUni. If they are an example of the women (and men) who are contributing to education in Australia (and beyond), then I believe our children and grandchildren are in good hands.

What is a motto or phrase that you live by?

‘Onwards and upwards’. I am a big believer in looking positively at even the most challenging of situations, rather than the alternativeJ. Also – don’t look back, unless it is to gain the perspective you will need to shape positive outcomes in the future.

What has been one of the biggest challenges of your career or life so far? And how did you tackle it?

At an earlier stage in my career I experienced less than desirable leadership. Several of my colleagues decided to resign, but I decided to stay. It was certainly a challenging time, but from that adversity I learned patience and resilience. The situation also allowed me to identify the type of leader I did not want to be.

What was the moment that you knew you were in the right career?

I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was eight years old. Later on, I realised why – great teachers support children to realise their potential, so I became a teacher. Once I stared tutoring at the university, I realised that to influence classrooms and teachers I needed to influence teacher education, so I became an academic. Once I was an academic I realised that to really influence classrooms and teachers I needed to be able to influence policy and curricular, so I became Dean. The rest is (recent) historyJ

From your experience, what would be the best advice you could give today’s young women?

You have a real contribution to make to this world. The secret is to match your skills and desires to a role about which you are passionate. Never give up. This might take some time, so stay true to your cause. Oh, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember to take time to look after YOU.