New handbook an inspiration for those in academia

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 12-11-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



"My goal is to help the new generation understand that there is a science and method to being successful. It is all about strategy, knowing yourself and your strengths, and building effective relationships." Professor Shelda Debowski.

A contemporary handbook providing academics with tips on how to build their professional skills base and a viable career strategy was launched by its author and Deputy Vice Chancellor at Notre Dame's Fremantle Campus, Professor Shelda Debowski, on Thursday 8 October 2012.

Former Vice Chancellor of The University of Western Australia, Emeritus Professor Alan Robson, spoke at the launch to congratulate Professor Debowski on her innovative writing and her ability to deliver a book tailored for all academics.

'The New Academic – A Strategic Handbook' has already been warmly received by academics and senior university staff around the world who have described the book as "accessible and insightful", "practical and easy to read" and "appealing for all academic leaders and managers".

This book has been written for those in their first five years of academe, with the goal of helping them understand the principles that underpin success and the issues they may face. Professor Robson, in his address, noted that the book also provided guidance to all academics in this new academic world.

The book is divided into five sections – Getting started in higher education; Teaching and learning; Research; Engagement, and Strategic management of your career.

Given the rapidly evolving nature of academia in recent years, the book delves into broader issues including the assessment and evaluation of academics in the higher education sector, and the key support strategies that can be accessed, including mentors and sponsors.

"One of the challenges I have seen across the world is a loss of identity for many academics. They are unsure of their priorities and how to maximise their potential and talents," Professor Debowski said.

"This book has a strong focus on the reasons we work in higher education and the particular values we wish to encourage and reflect.

"It encourages the reader to start with who they are and what they need from their career so that they can determine their best fit and professional focus."

The book is based on more than 15 years of research by Professor Debowski who has drawn upon collective ideas and best practice from colleagues at various universities in Australia and around the world.

Professor Debowski's PhD mentor and supervisor, Robert Wood, provided her with the essential knowledge and guidance about academic work. These insights sparked her determination to write the book after her research found a lack of material available for academics who were seeking professional advice on how to achieve personal and strategic growth in their job roles.

"There is widespread recognition that the process of being an effective academic requires continual up-skilling as the individual moves from effective teacher and researcher to academic leader," Professor Debowski said.

"The variety of paths that can be taken will be partly determined by opportunity, but will also reflect the strategy and portfolio that the individual chooses to prioritise."

In her opening remarks, Vice Chancellor Professor Celia Hammond congratulated Professor Debowski on the launch of her book.

"For those needing a refresher or looking for inspiration, this really is a strategic handbook. It reminds you of how far you have come – and what the path ahead might look like," Professor Hammond said.

"Professor Debowski's work is a blessing to any academic looking for advice and guidance. In turn, Notre Dame's academics are blessed to have Professor Debowski on staff mentoring and guiding them."

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138 Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093