Nicole Saunders, Manager, Campus Engagement

I’ve just had 24 incidental meetings on my way back from another meeting.

Nicole SaundersI can walk from one building to another and I can have property stop me and ask me if a particular group is affiliated, I’ve run in to Marketing and we’ve had discussions about Orientation Week and some retiming initiatives with the train station closure, then coming up the stairs and I’ve had students from student groups come to talk to me about the activities that they’re doing at the moment.

My whole job is diverse. I look after all the student groups, student diversity and inclusion (the Respect. Now. Always project is now under my portfolio), accommodation services, and I look after MAZE – yeah there’s a whole heap, but luckily I work with a fantastic team and we have great networks across campus, which is obvious from how many people stopped me from walking from one building to another.

But I love it.

I love how passionate students are about whatever their objective is. So whether it is their particular student group, or refugees, or the space up here. It’s the level of their commitment to the cause, which is what gets me.

There’s plenty of passion, it’s not lacking in students, and as you know, when people are passionate, sometimes they don’t always agree, so that’s what my team comes up against – to play that role, to get people to see other sides of the story.

Next week we’ve got people from the University of Kent, Canterbury and some Japanese delegates, from multiple Japanese universities coming out to have a look at MAZE, and all the spaces that are being used for student activities, particularly student groups. What they would have had is student unions in their universities. So MAZE has become somewhat of a talking point. Last week we also had Architectus, the firm that designed this, out here with a whole heap of their people and potential clients, showing people all the spaces, and I spoke at a conference a couple of weeks ago too.

Associate Professor Kira Westaway, Department of Environmental Sciences

Kira Westaway holding a globeWhy are you walking along with a big globe?

So I’ve just come from a GEOS112, (The Planet Earth) lecture, a 1st year unit, and I use this as a form of engagement, to get them used to an idea and play around with a concept.

What’s your favourite thing about teaching?

Being allowed to be stupid (laughs). No, I just love that feeling when they go ‘ohhh right’, you know and the penny drops, it’s great fun.

I love the creativity about it, just always trying to find new ways to be inspiring, or to be engaging, or crazy, the silly things that I do.

You inspire a lot of others, but what inspires you?

So now I have all these plastic balls, a hundred of them, one week they’re electrons, next week they’re mega fauna, next week they’re isotopes, and every week I think of a different application.Other people in front of me. I recently went to a learning and teaching seminar and they were talking about innovative teaching. There was this guy from IT who had all these plastic balls and did this one prac with all these balls. And I thought “I love the idea of that, but I can’t think of anything… and suddenly I thought, hang on, I do have one idea I could use. And the over the weeks it just, oh, I’ve got another one, and another one”.Kira Westaway

And it’s great, because you sit there and you’re talking mega fauna for example, and you talk about all the different theories, but you can sit there and actually say “right, we have to work out how we’re going to kill all this mega fauna without leaving any kill sites,” so I say “right, everybody just kill some mega fauna, but then of course they have big piles of bones everywhere, it doesn’t work”… it’s just talking about the concepts and ideas, and making them work through the problems themselves.

I’m learning Mandarin at the moment – the value of doing, I’m really understanding. Because I’m seeing and I’m listening, but it’s not going in, at all. I have to do it. I need a quiz, I need an activity, I need something, cause it’s just not going in at all. And I realised that I am a visual learner, but I’m more of a doer, than just visual.

Posted by Geraldine Timmins

I was Communications and Engagement Lead for the Learning Innovation Hub 2017 - 2018 and Teche Editor during that time.


  1. Great article Geraldine. Good to see strong women who are passionate about what they do!


    1. Geraldine Timmins 13 April, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks Julie. Yes, these women are always such a joy and inspiration to talk too. I didn’t mention that a couple of students stopped to chat with Kira to ask about the globe while we were chatting. A simple but effective approach to foster engagement.


  2. Great article! I know Nicole and she’s really amazing!


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