Finnish academic trailblazer joins UOW

The  University of Wollongong's latest recruit, Professor Eeva Leinonen, is helping pave the way for women in the higher echelons of academia.

The Finnish academic was the first female deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, and the first woman to be appointed as a vice-principal (education) at the prestigious King's College in London.

Now, she is just the second woman to join the senior executive team at UOW, as she took up her role as deputy vice-chancellor (education) this week.

"It's not about gender, it's about the job - but it is good to have women in an executive team," she said.

Born in Finland, Prof Leinonen went to school in the United States before attending the University of London and her specialities are linguistics and psychology.

She comes to Wollongong straight from her post at King's College, and succeeds Prof Rob Castle who retired after 42 years.

It has been a busy start for Prof Leinonen, but she is appreciating the sprawling Wollongong campus after her stint at King's, which is in central London.

"Personally, I was looking for something different, and my partner is Australian," she said.

"Professionally, it was a good opportunity as the University of Wollongong has a really good reputation internationally."

Prof Leinonen said the chance to work alongside UOW's new vice-chancellor, Prof Paul Wellings, had also been a motivating factor.

"Professor Wellings had a very good reputation in the UK, especially during his time as vice-chancellor at the University of Lancaster," she said.

"I think he has a very aspirational strategic plan for the University of Wollongong and I'm excited to be part of the delivery of that, and helping to shape it as well."

At King's College, Prof Leinonen made significant advances in learning and teaching; the student experience, community participation and e-learning - and those are the areas she plans to focus on in her latest role.

"In the areas of learning and teaching, and the student experience, there are already very strong foundations for me to build on," Prof Leinonen said.

"The university is also a big part of the city and the region, and that community agenda is very important to me.

"I look forward to linking up with members of the Wollongong community, schools, colleges, businesses and groups, as I think it is important for the university and the external community to be closely aligned."

Prof Leinonen said UOW's 2013-18 strategic plan emphasised the importance of digital learning, something tertiary education providers "should never be complacent about".

The eight-person senior executive team includes another female, Professor Judy Raper.

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