James Cook University on course as deputy vice-chancellor Stephen Weller bids farewell
DR Stephen Weller saw huge potential in James Cook University when he arrived in Cairns three years ago, and now as he announces his resignation, he is confident the school is on track to achieving it.
Dr Weller says boosting the university's enrolments and helping the Far North develop a stronger appetite for study after high school are among his proudest achievements as the head of the Cairns campus since 2010.
JCU announced yesterday Dr Weller and his family would be returning to Sydney in April after he was appointed chief operating officer and a deputy vice-chancellor at the Australian Catholic Unidhversity.
Dr Weller told The Cairns Post he would leave the Far North proud of the growth he had overseen at the Smithfield university since starting as deputy vice-chancellor in January 2010.
"The plan was to grow the campus, and in terms of student numbers, we've grown by almost 40 per cent,'' Dr Weller said.
"And in terms of economic engagement, it's been almost a three-fold increase.''
The goal of increasing student numbers to 5000 by 2015 seemed ambitious when Dr Weller was appointed. But with 4500 students set to be studying at JCU Cairns by the end of the year, the goal will likely be achieved years ahead of schedule.
"If we can get to that figure early, it will lay the foundation for the next goal of 10,000 students by 2025.
"The key thing that we want is to have specialisations here that support the local economy and make Cairns a hub for tropical knowledge across Australia and internationally.''
Dr Weller said the university was engaging high school students to increase their aspiration for further study after year 12.
"People have now got university in their thinking - there's no reason that anybody in Cairns shouldn't aspire to get to university,'' he said.
Dr Weller will stay with the university until he leaves for Sydney inenApril.
JCU's vice-chancellor Professor Sandra Harding congratulated Dr Weller, saying Dr Weller had done an "outstanding job".
"Fortunately for him, but sadly for us and for the Cairns community of which he has become an important part, a good opportunity presented itself with ACU,'' she said.
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.
Share this article
Campus success: Deputy vice-chancellor Stephen Weller is proud of the growth he has overseen at Smithfield's James Cook University campus.