After a three-year tenure as the president of the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), Professor Rob Whelan leaves the 18-year-old institution at the end of the month.
During his time as president, Whelan has overseen a staff almost 400 and a student body of more than 4,000.
Its parent, the University of Wollongong, has identified potential candidates in the final stages of recruitment and will announce a successor by the end of August, Whelan said.
"The end of my contract comes up at the end of August. It's time for a changing of the guard," he said. Whelan said he plans to spend a one-month holiday in Ireland with his wife after which he will look at available opportunities.
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"There is a possibility of remaining in the UAE if there's an appropriate position available or I will go back to Australia to continue in an academic management role. I've very much enjoyed working in the UAE and I'm not in a hurry to leave."
Earlier this month, an appreciation event was held for Whelan and he was thanked for his contributions to the university by Tecom Business Parks chief executive Dr Ameenah Al Rostamani and Tecom Investments Education Cluster managing director Dr Ayoub Kazim.
"Professor Whelan brought about significant reforms within the university, moulding it into a coveted institution for higher education," said Kazim and Ameenah.
They said, during his term as president, Whelan tailored various courses to deliver shorter training modules to meet the demands of various sectors in the region.
He also developed UOWD's doctoral programmes in Business and Administration, and a master's degree in communication and media studies.
Whelan also counts enhancing the university's research activities and encouraging his staff's engagement with research project relevant to the region as one of his major achievements.
Arriving in a new country and faced with a foreign higher education and culture also came with some challenges, Whelan said.
"One of the things that any new person finds is that it's a complicated landscape — there are education free zones, there's the national system for licensure and local licences within the emirate — and navigating through that complexity can be daunting," he said.
At the end of his tenure, Whelan said he was proud of the level of commitment that his staff continues to show to the university's goals and the student body's willingness to engage with university officials and give them feedback about issues that affect it.