UTS: Queen’s Birthday honours to UTS leaders

Shirley Alexander, Michele Rumsey, Aunty Glendra Stubbs and Leslie Loble have been recognised for their achievements and contributions in the fields of education and technology, nursing and midwifery, and Indigenous leadership.

Professor Shirley Alexander
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education and Students
Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for service to tertiary education, in particular for innovation in teaching and learning

Education trailblazer Shirley Alexander grew up in country NSW and was the first person in her family to attend university. She studied as a mature-age student after initially coming to Sydney to train as a nurse. A Bachelor of Science, Graduate Diploma in Education and Master of Applied Statistics followed.

She joined UTS in 1992 and quickly developed a reputation as an “early adopter” of technology in education. After serving as Director of IML and then Dean of the Faculty of Education, in 2007 Professor Alexander was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education and Students, a position she still holds. She has influenced the practice of teaching and learning through her research, as a government advisor, on review panels for other institutions, and as a keynote speaker at national and international forums. Initiatives where she has been a pioneer are now the norm – from using technology to enhance learning to courses incorporating design thinking and industry projects for students.

Professor Alexander puts the student experience at the centre of everything she does and continues to read every student feedback form, considering every comment a student makes about their learning experience and acting where appropriate. The reinvention of student learning at UTS –collaborative theatres equipped with leading-edge technology replacing the massive lecture theatres of old – owes much to her drive and dedication. The project was recognised with an international award for blended learning.

Professor Alexander says: “While I am honoured to receive this recognition I am very conscious that innovation is a team sport. I am very grateful to the many colleagues who have been part of these innovations over many years.”

Michele Rumsey
Michele Rumsey is the founding Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Development, established at UTS in 2008. She has played an important role in developing and strengthening health workforce regulation and education to achieve better health outcomes in the Western Pacific region.

UK-born Rumsey realised a childhood ambition when, at the age of 16, she embarked on what has become an “eclectic nursing career”, characterised by her passion and persistence. She is skilled in consultation, strategic planning, research, networking, negotiation and project management, and able to work in ways that are culturally appropriate, building trust and relationships with local health care workers. Nurses are three-quarters of the professional health workforce in the South and Western Pacific, 95% are women and more than half are under 35.

Some of the Collaborating Centre’s current projects, carried out in partnership with nurses and midwives across the Pacific region, include Pacific leadership programs and health workforce quality improvement programs with WHO. A multimillion-dollar health strengthening education program with PNG’s National Department of Health, funded by the Australian Government, has seen senior health professionals come together from across PNG for the first time.

“I am very, very humbled to receive this honour and it’s nice to be recognised in this way. It’s hard when the colleagues I work with are so stretched every day but this is a way to shine a spotlight on the value of nursing and midwifery. Anything we can do to support nursing, and for people to understand the value of nursing, is really important,” she says.

Aunty Glendra Stubbs
Aunty Glendra Stubbs s a Wiradjuri woman whose mob originates from the Mudgee/Dubbo and Narrandera areas. Her dad once told her: “If you’ve got a chance to make a difference for your mob, you’ve got to do all you can.”

Aunty Glendra has done just that, working for more than 40 years providing advice and practical assistance to survivors of trauma, supporting families and working through the issues that arise from out-of-home care.

As the Elder-in-Residence at UTS she plays a significant cultural, knowledge sharing, mentoring and social role for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, aimed at enhancing Indigenous student retention and success. She represents the university through community engagement initiatives and contributes to the wellbeing of Indigenous staff and students.

In an interview not long after her appointment in 2019, Aunty Glendra said: “I just want the students to succeed and know they belong at university. If I can help a student to complete their studies, or support them through any doubts or troubles, then I’m doing my job.” As the pandemic turned student life on its head, that support became more and more important.

When news of her impending honour arrived, Aunty Glendra says she was lost for words.

“I always have words but not this time. I feel really honoured and humbled. Like many Aboriginal people, most of my time is spent in working to overcome the impacts of colonisation and the disruption that caused – and is still causing – to our nations, families and communities. So, I feel that this award is for all of us. We are now at a time when more than ever before, the future holds the promise of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people working together, respecting each other’s culture and all its ways of knowing, being and doing.”

Leslie Loble

Paul Ramsay Foundation Fellow Leslie Loble joined UTS in 2021 as an Industry Professor. Working with the Centre for Social Justice & Inclusion, and experts across the university, Loble is exploring how education, central to overcoming disadvantage, can more effectively develop and apply technology to lift achievement and outcomes, and support and enhance the work of their teachers and schools.

Loble has had a long career in education and spent 20 years in the NSW Department of Education, including as Deputy Director General and Deputy Secretary. She worked across schooling, early childhood and tertiary education in what is Australia’s largest and most diverse education sector.