Top UOW academic Don Iverson resigns

University of Wollongong leading light Don Iverson has tendered his resignation in a shock move linked to the university's amalgamation of "super-faculties" last month.

The popular health dean and medical school pioneer has accepted a post at Swinburne University in Melbourne, where he will head the Faculty of Health, Arts and Design from February next year.

Prof Iverson announced his decision last Friday to shocked staffers and academics.

He told the Mercury he had ignored several job offers in the past, but became interested in the bid from Swinburne - which has also undergone a recent faculties amalgamation - because of the intriguing coupling of health with arts and design, and because of a long-time admiration for Swinburne's Vice-Chancellor Linda Kristjanson.

Prof Iverson became Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health when the 11 faculties at UOW were merged into five super-faculties last month.

"I have loved my time at Wollongong, but the way the faculties have been restructured ... my feeling is the way the job was evolving was a little different to what I envisioned it would be," he said.

"I tend to focus on creative vision and getting people together and joining the dots. The job was moving towards a more management administrative job, which is fine, but it's just not me."

Canadian-born Prof Iverson held several senior academic and government positions in Canada and the US before he started at UOW in 2001 as Dean of the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.

He was one of the key players in convincing the Howard government of the merits of establishing the Graduate School of Medicine at UOW, and compelling regional general practitioners to support the school by taking on student doctors for a full year of their degree.

Prof Iverson said he and his wife, Lynne Iverson, hoped to return to the Illawarra after his retirement, when he hoped to see Wollongong bearing the fruits of being a host city to an established medical school.

"In another seven years you will see some major changes in the kind of medical grants we get at the university and the type of people we're able to attract to Wollongong to work in hospitals," he said.

"The medical school has had a positive impact in the general practice community in the area by getting the GPs more involved and excited about where we're going, and I think we'll start to see a lot of those people who graduate from UOW stay in the area as specialist GPs."

Prof Iverson said he had "nothing but respect" for the researchers and academics within his faculty, many of whom had been shocked by his resignation.

He hoped to link research projects between Wollongong and Swinburne in future.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said Prof Iverson's contribution to the development of the University of Wollongong could not be underestimated.

"He was one of the driving forces in the establishment of the health and medical teaching and research agenda at UOW. Don was vital to the conception and establishment of the medical school and he also helped in the creation of the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and its focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration and community connections," Prof Wellings said.

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