22 November 1999

Professor Richard Williams is excited by the opportunity to lead The University of Queensland's Gatton campus into the new millennium.

The acting Executive Dean of UQ's Faculty of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (NRAVS) says the recommendations of the Brown Report endorsed recently by the University of Queensland's Senate, herald an exciting era at Gatton.

With a change of name from Gatton College to UQ Gatton will come a range of initiatives which Professor Williams says present both a challenge and an opportunity for students, staff and researchers at the 102 year-old campus.

As a previous head of department and standing deputy to the former Executive Dean of the Faculty, Professor Craig Pearson, Professor Williams has been active in shaping UQ Gatton's evolution.

"The Brown Report provides for extensive upgrading of facilities at Gatton to underpin its future development and provides an opportunity for staff to work towards a vision of the UQ Gatton as a world-class research and teaching facility, building on the long tradition of meeting the training needs of the rural community at all levels," he said.

"The very strong message to staff and students at Gatton, and those students considering undertaking studies there, is that the future is not only assured, but that there will be an expansion in the range of courses offered.

"A particularly important initiative of the Brown Report is the establishment of an Centre for Rural and Regional Innovation, which will play a key role in providing a whole range of activities associated with the reinvigoration of rural and regional communities across Australia."

Professor Williams also emphasised that the NRAVS faculty would continue to be multi-campus and that "links with other departments and courses at the St Lucia campus will always be important, underpinning the programs at Gatton."

Also important, and a priority for Professor Williams and other university leaders, has been the development of a strong research culture at Gatton which, he says, is "in line with the campus being very much a part of the research-intensive University of Queensland."
"Such research has valuable spin-offs into the teaching programs," he says.

Professor Williams acknowledges the public speculation surrounding the Gatton campus had created an atmosphere of uncertainty. "However, the controversy did one positive thing, which was to highlight the high regard in which Gatton is held by past students, industry, politicians and community leaders," he said.

For more information, contact Professor Williams on (07) 3365 7984 (Mondays and Wednesdays) or (07) 5465 0201 (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays).