The future is now, local tells uni students

April 13th, 2022The future is now, local tells uni students

STAYING home during the pandemic has meant a quiet revolution. For Daylesford’s Craig Mutton it changed a lot, including his job.

STAYING home during the pandemic has meant a quiet revolution. For Daylesford’s Craig Mutton it changed a lot, including his job.
As a strategy and transformation chief at the state’s Environment Protection Authority, he saw it transform from being punitive to preventative. And while this massive change was under way, in swept Covid and 750 people were told to work from home.

When reflecting on formerly commuting to Melbourne five days a week, he says that in an odd way Covid was his saviour.
“We had to rethink the way we make change,” says Craig. “It may not take too long…when you are under the pump you can do it in a week.”
So a step that once may have meant enormous planning, seemingly endless committee meetings, perhaps over a year, was taken virtually overnight.
Craig is taking what he learnt in that upheaval to a new and rare job as chief digital officer at the University of Canberra. This is some step for a former computer programmer.

Having begun in computer science, he became more interested in working with people, and completed a Master’s degree in project management, first joining Telstra, then the EPA.
His experience helps him pose the question: What do students want from a modern university? One answer is that some students now find it weird having to turn up to a particular room at a particular time. Just as they can watch a TV show when it suits them, the same applies to lectures.
During the pandemic universities had to learn to provide what he calls meaningful touch points with staff and bring the team together.
And then there are the mid-career students who must balance demands of work and home with their studies. This means adjustments by academic and professional staff.
“The day of everybody turning up for a lecture is probably gone.”
Enter the personalised digital university, responding to students’ needs which, for some, will still mean face-to-face learning.
Clearly, the 13,000-student university is already going well: it is ranked world number one for reducing inequality. And indigenous campaigner for human rights and social justice, Tom Calma, is its chancellor.
In his decade here Craig contributed to the community as chair of the Castlemaine Art Museum and director on the board of the Hepburn Health Service, now Central Highlands Rural Health.
And while he will be leaving, he and his husband, yoga teacher Adrian Thia, are keeping their Vincent Street North home and studio, knowing they’ll be back.
He tells of the wrench Adrian is feeling about giving up his studio, possibly in June. His students’ first reaction was to congratulate Craig and Adrian, and then it hit: “Oh, my goodness, my yoga studio is going away.”
But the home and studio, with their vivid and imaginative décor, furnishings and paintings that had design bloggers exhausting their adjectives, will still be here. As Craig says, they made more friends in a couple of years here than in 12 years in Collingwood.

Pictured, Craig celebrating the move at Lake House, below, Craig and his husband, Adrian Thia

Words: Kevin Childs | Images: Contributed

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