HEAT'S ON: Professor Nick Klomp takes up the role of Vice-Chancellor at CQUniversity in February after VC Professor Scott Bownman announced his retirement earlier this year.
HEAT'S ON: Professor Nick Klomp takes up the role of Vice-Chancellor at CQUniversity in February after VC Professor Scott Bownman announced his retirement earlier this year. ABC

CQUniversity's new boss shares his vision for the future

BY THE time the 2019 academic years starts, CQUniversity will have a new Vice-Chancellor after Professor Scott Bowman announced his retirement earlier this year.

It took a six-month global search before Professor Nick Klomp, an ecologist and environmental scientist who loves teaching and likes to run marathons, was appointed to the role.

Prof Klomp is currently serving as Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic at the University of Canberra and before that spent 20 years at Charles Sturt University, based in Wagga Wagga in NSW.

Prof Klomp said he is no stranger to the unique challenges and opportunities in regional universities and was effusive in his belief of their importance.

"Frankly, if a metro university disappeared, some students would have to catch a different bus," he said.

"But if it wasn't for regional universities, some students would never go to uni.

"At CQU there are 6000 first-in-family students, so that gives you an impression of how important it is.

"It's a major player with 30,000 students in 26 locations."

After braving a February introduction to Rockhampton - he said none of the locals have been backward in coming forward about what that means - his first priority is to visit those 26 locations.

Not just to meet the 3500 staff, but also the stakeholders and community leaders to learn about their aspirations for the university, new courses and research to assist business and industry and to put their town on the map.

At University of Canberra, Prof Klomp leads a curriculum renewal program to address the challenge of preparing graduates for a very different future workforce.

He said traditionally universities are like the Titanic, "not that they're sinking, they're just difficult to turn".

"But CQUniversity is nifty, it moves pretty quickly," he said.

"It's very prepared to be a different university, prepared to go where other universities fear to tread.

"Lots of universities are playing into the space of readying students for the workforce.

"My vision is not just to create graduates that will walk into a job, but graduates that will create jobs, who are entrepreneurial.

"I want to produce graduates who are capable of moving from job to job, but also of creating their own job and employing other people with them."

Prof Klomp said while the heart and soul of CQU are in Central Queensland, the university provides access for regional and rural students from around Australia.



Scott and Anita Bowman's home for the next 10 years.
Professor Scott Bowman has retired as VC at CQUniversity and plans to travel Australia for the next 10 years with his wife, Anita. Allan Reinikka ROK290518abowman1

"The world is so connected now, you can do great research wherever you are and CQU is remarkable in its research outputs," he said. "In 14 categories, CQUniversity research is ranked as world-class.

"In Rockhampton that includes precision livestock management, health and physical activity, engineering and regional development. That's research that makes a difference to business and industry in regional Australia."

At 55, Prof Klomp is one of the younger Vice-Chancellors in Australia.

With a vision for the future and undaunted by Rockhampton's fearsome summers, Australia's largest regional university is in enthusiastic hands.

"I'm a Perth boy originally, so I'm used to the heat," he said. "And I'm in Canberra, so if anyone's going to worry about the weather it's me."