Collegians President Says Goodbye
Mark Whitby (Class of 2000) is stepping down as President of Radford Collegians after four years. Mark’s dedication and contribution to both the Association and the College was recently noted at an event hosted by Board Chairman Steve Baker and Principal Fiona Godfrey to thank the College’s community organisations – Collegians, P&F and Foundation.
Here Mark talks with Mick Bunworth about his time leading the Collegians and his hopes for the future.
- Why did you decide to join the RCA committee?
I joined the Executive Committee because I wanted to have a seat at the table and to make a meaningful contribution to the Radford community. Plus, I had a really fantastic experience as a student at Radford, so it was really great to be able to give something back.
- What positions have you held and for how long?
I have been President of the RCA for four years. Before that, I was Vice-President for two years. I was also the RCA Nominee to the Radford College Board over a four-year period. Following that term, I was reappointed to the College Board as a Bishop-In-Council appointment for a further three years.
- What was your strategy when you accepted the President’s role?
I was keen to see the Collegians grow and evolve as an association and I really wanted to be someone who would drive change and create a strategic agenda. Ultimately, there are thousands of collegians who have graduated from Radford who are now doing varied, interesting and meaningful things with their lives. I wanted the Association to be able help shares these stories – this was a huge driver behind the creation of our fantastic website. I also wanted the Collegians to give more back to the College, through mentoring and speaking opportunities as well as the obvious social events such as the annual reunions.
- Do you feel the strategy worked? Anything you’d do differently?
We didn’t really have a formalised strategy when I started, and we relied almost entirely on volunteers. One of the first things we did was review the whole association, thinking about what we did well and what we could be doing better. One of the best things that came from this was the appointment of Claire Osborne to the role of RCA Communications Officer. Claire has been able to contribute a lot to the Association and has done an incredible job to build the Radford community beyond what we started with. She has been instrumental in removing the time pressures placed on volunteers, which is obviously something that many not-for-profit organisations struggle with. We also simplified our membership process and made it more inclusive as well. It now ensures that everyone who attends Radford from now on will automatically become a Collegian member.
- Collegians only celebrated their first 30-year reunion this year. Have there been unique challenges in running an organisation for former students of a relatively young school?
It has been a bit of learning curve. Most of our collegians are busy, working hard, studying, raising young families, travelling etc. So, the greatest challenge was finding people who could be involved and give a little bit of their time to help out. I’m a big believer in sharing the workload wherever possible, and the team we have is fantastic at doing this.
- What’s been your favourite moment with Collegians?
I have two favourite moments. Firstly, seeing our new website and e-Newsletter get launched and all the amazing stories and connections that they are enabling, including how it is assisting George Huitker with his new book on Radford.
Secondly, attending the Life Beyond Radford panel events that we put on for Year 12 students. It is really encouraging to see so many students asking questions to a panel of collegians about what life after Radford looks like. We worked hard to show the students that there is no defined path to success or happiness and that everyone experiences ups and downs and sideways steps along the way. Some of the most interesting Collegians have worked very creatively to get into roles that they are passionate about and it is incredible seeing these stories starting to inspire the next generation.
- What’s your aspiration for Radford as a College, and the Collegians as an organisation?
My aspiration for the College would be that it continues to educate and inspire students to live their lives to the fullest, so they are comfortable to follow their passions and able to embrace the changes in life that will inevitably occur.
For the Collegians Association I’ve always thought of the organisation a bit like a proud parent, celebrating the successes and stories of what collegians achieve after leaving Radford. My aspiration would therefore be for collegians to live their lives to the fullest and follow what they are passionate about. It makes our job sharing these stories in the Radford community very easy.
- Why are you leaving and what will you be doing?
I have an exciting time ahead – I’ll be moving to Newcastle for 12 months to be near my wife’s family while we have our third child. While I’ll be back in Canberra regularly throughout the year, I thought it was time to pass the baton on to someone else* who would be able to expand on the momentum the RCA has generated thus far, and will be able to look at things with a fresh perspective and new ideas.
*Tristan Madigan (Class of 1999) has been voted in as RCA President.To Home