THE appointment of a Professor of Sheep and Wool Science at the University of New England consolidates the University's central role in a new national education program for the sheep and wool industry.
Professor David Cottle, who will take up the position at the end ofJanuary, will manage the education program for the Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre (Sheep CRC).
The Federal Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, launched the Sheep CRC during a visit to UNE in February this year.
UNE is the only university involved in the CRC as a core partner, and the creation of the new chairman in Sheep and Wool Science is part of the strategy to revitalise education and training for Australia's sheep industry.
The CRC is committed to investing $90 million over seven years in research, development, extension and education.
The new Chair at UNE is jointly sponsored by the CRC itself, UNE, and the Australian Wool Testing Authority's Wool Education Trust.
Professor Cottle, who gained his Doctorate at UNE, is an international expert in wool science and sheep breeding and management, and the editor of The Australian Sheep and Wool Handbook and the journal Wool Technology and Sheep Breeding.
Having worked for the past five years as a member of the senior management team at the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand, Professor Cottle will facilitate the development of collaboration between Australia and New Zealand in sheep and wool education and research.
He was an Associate Professor of Wool Science in the Department of Wool and Pastoral Science at the University of NSW in the 1990s.
Since the closure of that department in 1997 there has been no recognised national tertiary centre for wool education and research.
With the appointment of Professor Cottle, UNE has now assumed that role.
UNE's Professor James Rowe, the chief executive officer of the Sheep RC, said Professor Cottle's appointment was "an extremely important development for an industry that still underpins much of rural Australia's prosperity".
"To apply its technological advances throughout the industry, the Sheep CRC needs the solid support of an integrated education program," Professor Rowe said.
The education program will build on courses already available at UNE and other tertiary institutions, and will incorporate research information from CRC partner activities.
Its highly flexible structure will enable students to enrol in anything from a single subject, to industry-specific certificate courses, to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
Professor Cottle will manage the compilation of course material from sources throughout Australia and New Zealand, and its on-campus provision to students through a network of tertiary institutions.
UNE will be the only provider of the material by distance education.
Undergraduate or postgraduate students wishing to apply for scholarships associated with the Sheep CRC can find information on the Internet at: http://www.sheep.crc.org.au.