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Janet McDonald

Janet McDonaldI have been the Head of the School of Creative Arts since 2008, and have worked at USQ for 12 years.

I originally trained as a Geography and English teacher (with a minor in Drama), and began my teaching career at Harristown SHS in Toowoomba teaching Drama, and keep on seeing my past students here on campus and in the region. Whilst teaching here, I decided to further my education and auditioned successfully for an acting degree, but soon turned to the academic side of Theatre and after two years, I segued into a Master of Arts (Research).

I taught in several other private and public schools in Brisbane after completing my MA, where I taught Lucas Stibbard who came to USQ to focus on his acting skills, and is now a professional in his field. It has been massively rewarding to see him develop from a young man into a professional actor who was recently nominated for a national Helpmann Award.

My career pathway so far has been about enabling emerging artists; recognising their potential and modelling a work ethic to my students and to my employees here at the University. A key part of my pedagogy is to teach people to enable themselves and then to pass on their learning to others, which can sometimes be an invisible part of what universities do. I have seen a culture shift in my 12 years here from siloed-thinking towards guiding and mentoring young people into life-long, change-able careers in the creative arts. At USQ we have ordinary people who do extraordinary things. It is a diverse organisation, with a melting pot of backgrounds. Our employees are our greatest asset. I like to lead by example and encourage taking initiative; being a leader at USQ is simply about serving others and taking initiative to make changes for the best.

At one stage in my career at USQ I was involved in a high-pressure project and I found that my employees were a nourishing source a support. They were excellent at just asking me “what do you need?” and then getting me a sandwich or filling the photocopier with paper to make sure that I had what I needed.

This is a great place to work. In the School of Creative Arts in particular, there is always something happening, the piano is playing, there are students shouting away in the theatre, employees laughing in the hallways: the building is alive. It is great to come to work and be surrounded by innovative experience and goodwill.