KUCHING: Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus recently welcomed its new pro vice-chancellor and chief executive, Professor Anthony Cahalan who took office on Jan 21.
He takes over from Professor Ken Heskin who has completed his term and will be returning to Australia. Heskin has headed the campus since early 2012.
Cahalan brings with him 28 years of professional experience, including as a senior executive in significant university leadership positions for the past 12 years.
“I am fortunate to have an excellent management team and a strongly supportive board of directors and (Swinburne Sarawak University) Council. Together, we have the critical responsibility of balancing the needs of Sarawak and Swinburne University of Technology in an international setting, while engaging meaningfully with Australia’s participation in the Asian Century,” he said on his role as pro vice-chancellor and chief executive.
“Critical to my daily focus are enhancing the quality of learning and teaching, strengthening the research we undertake for the benefit of our communities, and highlighting the quality of student experience,” added Cahalan.
He said his plans for the university are to define and build upon its unique location in Sarawak, as well as its reputation and profile.
“I hope to enhance Swinburne Sarawak as a university of choice for students and staff from multiple backgrounds and locations by accentuating the quality of the international educational experience we provide. I am looking forward to working with staff and students to contribute to intercultural learning between Australia, Malaysia and other countries from which our students originate,” he said.
He is impressed by Swinburne Sarawak’s profile, ambitions, purpose and commitment to students, staff, communities, partners and stakeholders.
“I am looking forward to leveraging Swinburne’s strengths to achieve greater levels of prominence and impact in this critically important region of Southeast Asia,” he said.
Before taking up his current position at Swinburne Sarawak, Cahalan was the executive dean of the Faculty of Arts at Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, Australia; and headed from 2006 to 2007 the faculty of design as dean at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada’s largest and oldest educational institution for art and design.
Cahalan is adjusting well to life in Kuching since his arrival.
“Although I only arrived on Jan 21, it feels like I have lived here a lot longer because everyone has made me feel so welcome. Everywhere I go, whether it is around the university or in shops or other parts of the city, people smile and say ‘Hello’. It makes a newcomer to Kuching feel immediately accepted and comfortable,” he said.
Cahalan has experience in university learning, teaching and research positions, extensive industry experience, and global and multicultural perspectives through his work in Australia, Austria, Canada and the United States.
He has held professional positions in graphic design, marketing and public relations and worked for national and international clients in the private, inter-governmental and non-profit sectors.
He was deputy head of the Division of Health, Design and Science as well as the School of Design and Architecture at the University of Canberra, Australia, from 2001 to 2006.
His research interest within the area of visual communication is contemporary typography. His PhD in design from Curtin University was the first in the field in Australia.
He holds a Master of Design from the University of Technology Sydney and a bachelor’s degree in visual communication from Sydney College of Arts.