Case #9: Developing and Implementing Hub-and-Spoke Models of Operations


DISCIPLINE: Higher Education, Learning and Teaching Leadership, Management
RESEARCH AREAS: Leadership, management, mindfulness, academic student support,academic professional development


Federation University (FedUni) Australia is a multi-campus regional university whose purpose is to ‘transform lives and enhance communities’ (Strategic Plan 2018-2022). FedUni is taking a transformational approach to build on our unique opportunities, respond to the higher education landscape and deliver high quality learning, teaching and research skills. FedUni has new campuses in Berwick (Melbourne) and Brisbane, with main campuses situated in regional Victoria (Ballarat, Gippsland and Wimmera region). FedUni has a long-standing history of international partner providers with the most recent in China. The university has approximately 21,125 students and 1,350 full time equivalent academic and professional staff across the organisation. The Academic Portfolio contains six schools and several central service provision areas. This includes the Centre for Learning, Innovation and Professional Practice (CLIPP).

In June 2014, I commenced the role, Director, CLIPP with renewed enthusiasm to support school learning and teaching (L&T) across the university. The focus of CLIPP is to provide academic professional development, innovative learning and teaching strategies and services supporting student transition, orientation and academic success. The complexity with leading any central service is determining the right balance between connecting with schools, autonomy and efficiency of practice.

I lead approximately 32 staff with skills in learning design, learning and teaching technology, lecturing, student support, and learning skills advisors. Over the years, the centre has been involved with a range of L&T and student success/retention initiatives.

“The complexity with leading any central service is determining the right balance between connecting with schools, and autonomy and efficiency of practice.”


Over time, there has been misalignment between school L&T priorities and timely support from central service areas. Learning and teaching professional services are delivered across universities in a variety of models. Some models provide fully embedded staff within schools. Some models provide support from fully central units. CLIPP has piloted and now implemented a hybrid hub-and-spoke model of L&T support since 2016. In 2016, six learning designers from CLIPP commenced roles whereby 60% of their time was spent being physically located in schools and 40% in CLIPP (per week). This arrangement has been highly successful and in 2018, CLIPP introduced CLIPP School Support Team, to further extend this arrangement.


  1. Affective Qualities: The entire CLIPP School Support Team is based around positive, open relationships with school leaders, empathy to their specific discipline needs and challenges, demonstrating confidentiality and openness while addressing school curriculum priorities.
  2. Mentorship and Empowerment: An important focus has been on helping colleagues to strengthen their teaching and learning practices; mentoring and coaching colleagues; removing barriers; sharing resources; building capacity for growth; sharing insights and advice; and bringing colleagues together. Over the past 5 years, I have mentored academic staff in all areas of academia: learning and teaching, research and service/leadership. Within the CLIPP School Support Team, I provide mentoring and coaching support particularly to the learning designers. Mentoring conversations include advice and skills relevant to working with school leaders, leading effective teams, managing conflict and collaborating effectively towards common goals. My mentoring approach is heavily influenced by Situational Leadership II™ and focuses on correct alignment between goal setting, diagnosing staff skill sets (i.e., competence and commitment), matching the style of leadership, and supporting staff over a period of time. I firmly encourage collective team cohesiveness and team-based methodology.
  3. Action Orientation: At the commencement of each teaching semester, I coordinate a meeting with the school leaders and the learning designers to discuss upcoming school priorities and initiatives. These priorities are discussed and collated as ‘Scope of Project’ summaries. These summaries are co-developed with learning designers and school staff, prior to seeking school endorsement. As leaders of the CLIPP School Support Teams, learning designers share this information with their specific team. The team develops a strategic approach that best utilizes varied skill sets (i.e., from all members of the team) that align with meeting goal objectives efficiently and effectively.
  4. Teaching Excellence: The Scope of Project summaries are focused at course, program and/or discipline level. They include aspects of student engagement, curriculum (i.e., assessment, feedback strategies and online learning environments), and/or targeted academic professional learning. The CLIPP School Support Team collaborate to identify the most efficient and effective method to achieve the target goals. Teaching excellence initiatives link best practice frameworks with reviews/audits, targeted staff support, working with Program and/or Discipline Leaders/Coordinators and using relevant, timely data that encapsulates the student experience.
  5. Pedagogical Research: In my capacity as CLIPP Director, I currently publish across a wide-span of discipline areas. I stay engaged with national and international trends through my engagement with social media and with targeted publications. As yet, I have not published specifically on the CLIPP School Support Model although I envisage this prospect in the near future. My research engagement fluctuates with university and related priorities. I have also built a reputation with the Regional University Network (RUN) and engage in scholarly discussions with the RUN PVC (Pro-Vice Chancellor) L&T Group.


The CLIPP School Support Team has allowed systematic engagement, prioritisation and follow-through with specific curriculum improvements and/or academic professional learning growth. The model has allowed for:

  • Systematic engagement with school leaders regarding curriculum and staff development priority areas
  • Building strong networks, connections and relationships with school staff
  • Clear endorsement of school projects that can be supported by multi-discipline teams of staff
  • Projects aligned with scope, accountability, team-work and successful outcomes geared towards student experience
  • Positive example of central services supporting schools in a hub-and-spoke model which is reviewed bi-yearly.


Fotinatos, N. (2018). The role of mindfulness in managing HRM challenges for senior higher education learning and teaching leaders. In Lemon, N., & McDonough, S. (Eds.) Mindfulness in the Academy. Pp 173-185. Singapore: Springer Singapore. doi: 10.1007/978-981-13-2143-6_11

Fotinatos, N. (2017). The impact of human resource challenges and central ADUs. Council of Australian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (CAULLT). Retrieved from

Fotinatos, N. (2017). Well beings led well- being. Council of Australian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (CAULLT). Retrieved from

Fotinatos, N., & Sabo, E (2017). Impact of centrally coordinated higher education pre-commencement of teaching student support initiative (FedReady) on student engagement: A regional university case study. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 2(1), 86-92. Published online 2018

Weuffen, S.L., Fotinatos, N., & Andrews, T. (2018). Evaluating sociocultural influences affecting participation and understanding of academic support services and programs (SSPs): Impacts on notions of attrition, retention, and success in higher education. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, Published online October 9, 2018. doi: 10.1177/1521025118803847


Headshot of Nina Fotinatos

My background prior to entering academia was predominately within the medical science and public health. After 10 years in diagnostic pathology, I transitioned into the higher education sector in 2009. My key focus area was developing innovative learning and teaching practices within medical curricula. This initiative received institutional (2010) and national recognition as an Australian Learning and Teaching Citation (ALTC) (Early Career) Winner in 2011. I played an integral role in the first delivery of the Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree at FedUni (2009). Prior to commencing as the CLIPP Director, I held senior positions across the university as the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) (2012-2014) and Chair, Learning and Teaching Committee (2012-2015).


Currently, I am an Associate Professor, Federation University, Ballarat Australia. Since June 2014, I have successfully led the CLIPP team in a number of learning and teaching initiatives, and more broadly, have led and supported initiatives such as the improvement of sessional staff experience, work integrated learning and an institutional project for Bronze Award Accreditation for Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). In additional to academic development and student retention and success initiatives, I also have a strong interest in leadership styles, management and strategies to better integrate central and school learning and teaching priorities.



Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia (SPERA), Executive Committee Member
Regional University Network (RUN), Pro-Vice Chancellor, Learning and Teaching Leaders
Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (Member 2014-2018)