Professor Barber said it was a difficult personal decision to leave UNE but with the university now in a very solid position he and his wife wished to return home to Melbourne. Stepping away from executive leadership of UNE would also enable him to focus on his interest in online learning and educational innovation, he said.
“This was not an easy decision as the last four years here in Armidale have been very rewarding,” Professor Barber said.
“However, UNE is in a very good position right now and I have every confidence that it will build on recent successes in the next phase of its development. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented, committed team.”
UNE Chancellor John Watkins paid tribute to Professor Barber’s achievements since joining UNE in 2010. UNE had improved its position on a range of key indicators, he said.
“UNE currently has record student demand, staff numbers are growing, University funds are in surplus, research funding has increased and the biggest capital works program in the history of the Armidale campus is now under way,” Mr Watkins said.
“Much of this success can be credited to Jim’s strategic leadership, his energy and his dynamism. Jim has proven very adept at reading the trends in higher education and putting UNE in the vanguard of growth areas such as online education and other innovations that will enable us to compete globally.
“I speak on behalf of the University Council in applauding his contribution and wishing him well. We are very sorry to see him go but understand his reasons for heading home. We are exploring ways in which Jim can pursue his interests in association with UNE in an external capacity.
“We share Jim’s optimism about UNE’s bright future and will shortly commence a global search for an appropriately qualified replacement to lead the next phase for UNE.”