The newly-appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Peter J. Dean, has always had a strong military connection throughout his life and has managed to forge a career that encompasses both this and his passion for education.
Growing up with a father that served in the Australian Army and a sister in the Royal Australian Navy, Peter was inspired to follow a military career pathway. For him, this decision has made a lasting impact on his professional life.
Being in the Army Reserve and fulfilling his military commitments didn’t get in the way of Peter completing an honours degree and Graduate Diploma of Education at the University of Newcastle and a PhD in Military Studies at the University of New South Wales.
“By serving in the Army I was able to pay my way through my studies and enjoy a challenging experience that complemented my interest and passion in strategic studies,” he says.
With five years high school teaching experience and working in the Curriculum Development branch of the New South Wales Department of Education, Peter was able to combine intensive teaching skills and knowledge of strategic defence for his later work teaching at the Australian Command and Staff College in Canberra.
Prior to coming to UWA, Peter spent over six years at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, where he also held a number of leadership positions in education.
Now at UWA Peter says it’s an honour to work at WA’s oldest university.
“Being one of the Group of Eight universities it is a leading ‘sandstone’ institution and I am excited to be part of a team that will be developing innovative teaching and learning opportunities in the education space.”
After 14 years working in various leadership positions in higher education, including seven years at the Sydney campus of the University of Notre Dame Australia as a Deputy Dean and managing teaching and learning, Peter brings invaluable and diverse experience to his new role.
“For the education portfolio in general, I am especially looking forward to providing a direction that continues to make us a world leading learning university.
“We are a top 100 research university, and we need to match this excellence in teaching and learning.
“Our priority is to provide best quality education to the next generation of Australian and international students who will go on to make valuable contributions on a local, national and global scale,” he says.
As a passionate educator Peter wants students to find and embrace pathways to achieve and diversify many things in their lives.
“I fondly remember some of the teachers who inspired my own academic journey and I wish the same for our students.
“Our focus should be on nurturing an environment where students are excited to be in the company of scholars whose ideas will open them up to thinking differently.
“We want students to run with the power of ideas and knowledge. That is the best of what education can do,” he says.
Peter is imbued with the sense of adventure and discovery and says that starting his role in O-Week is so timely.
“Just like a ‘fresher’ I am getting to know the campus and the people that make UWA tick.
“My immediate focus is to get to know the staff, particularly the academic staff who are at the coalface of education at UWA,” he says.
When he is not out and about meeting new faces and admiring UWA’s many impressive buildings, he enjoys being at home surrounded by his family and lots of books.
“I am still not willing to give up stockpiling books,” he says.
It’s not a surprise that the large majority of these books are about the military.