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Mr Bean comes to RMIT

17 July 2014

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Martin Bean, currently the vice-chancellor of the UK’s Open University, has been appointed to succeed Margaret Gardner as vice-chancellor RMIT University.
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A global leader in managing the intersection between education and technology, Martin Bean has placed The Open University in a very strong position, maintaining its top-five Martin Beanposition for student satisfaction in the UK’s National Student Survey, with scores of more than 90%, while continuing to consolidate its world- class research profile.

Before joining The Open University, Mr Bean was General Manager Worldwide Education Products Group at Microsoft, following executive leadership roles at Novell and other IT companies integrating technology and learning systems.

RMIT chancellor Dr Ziggy Switkowski said that Mr Bean’s focus upon the student experience and understanding of how technology enables better learning and teaching outcomes will drive a new era in quality education for students attending RMIT.

He is an executive with strong international relationships within the higher education sector and industry built over many years and will bring a wealth of commercial and operational experience to the RMIT community.

In addition, having successfully managed higher education reform amid the widespread regulatory changes within the UK system in recent years, he is perfectly positioned to lead RMIT through the changing regulatory landscape currently being shaped by the Federal Government.

Awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of London in 2013, Mr Bean has a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Technology, Sydney.

At the invitation of the UK Government, Mr Bean developed and launched FutureLearn in December 2012, the UK’s response to the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) movement.

Under his leadership The Open University has also made its award-winning course materials available to more than 200,000 enrolled students via tablets and smartphones. Mr Bean will step down as the chair but continue on the board of FutureLearn.

Mr Bean describes RMIT University as “one of Australia’s most vibrant and exciting institutions, especially during this time of reform within the Australian higher education system”:

With its focus on global learning, its urban and creative orientation and connections to professions, industries and organisations RMIT is uniquely positioned to build on its fine reputation in the years ahead.

A graduate of the University of Technology, Sydney, Mr Bean’s career in the higher education and IT sectors spans 25 years, working largely in North America.

He started at Drake Training and Technologies, managing the Asia-Pacific team, and later shifted to global IT software company Novell, which saw him running the field marketing operations world-wide.

Senior global operational roles at The Thomson Corporation and New Horizons Computer Learning Centres followed, before becoming a global manager at Microsoft, where he worked closely with worldwide education communities.  He joined The Open University in 2009.

Mr Bean will take up his new role in February 2015.

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We’ve referred to Martin Bean throughout as “Mr Bean” not at some pathetic attempt at humour but because that’s our convention.  Generally, honorifics/courtesy titles aren’t used in Scan posts – for example, in a general news item the outgoing vice-chancellor would be referred to as “Margaret Gardner” in the first instance and “Gardner” thereafter.  However, Milestones posts always use the appropriate honorific.  In the case of Martin Bean that’s “Mr”, not “Doctor” or “Professor” – which is without parallel for an appointment to vice-chancellor of Australian university in the modern era (John Monash was vice-chancellor of Melbourne University from 1923 to 1931 but that was more akin to the position of chancellor today). As noted in the Australian Financial Review, Martin Bean’s appointment is a radical departure for Australian universities:

Although he is no stranger to higher education…he is not a career academic… Far from the conventional vice-chancellor’s   academic career of a Ph.D, followed by regular publications and a steady rise through university administrative ranks, Bean’s   job prior to becoming The Open Universities vice-chancellor was general manager worldwide education products group at Microsoft.

How will the cosy circle of university vice-chancellors cope with real diversity in the ranks? asks the Fin.

 We rather suspect that Mr Bean will be awarded a doctorate of substantive standing rather than honorary ( “ad eundem gradum” – a doctor of the university – rather than “honoris causa” – an honorary doctorate which he’s already got) which would put him on the same academic standing as his fellow vice-chancellors.  The fact that he’s been vice-chancellor of the UK’s largest university would certainly justify the award.

See also

RMIT appoints Open University boss Martin Bean as new vice-chancellor 


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