Consultation process underway to select new vice-chancellor

Words by Tom Haskell

Following the resignation of Warren Bebbington as the vice-chancellor, Chancellor Kevin Scarce has sent out an email to staff members outlining the principles of the consultation process for selecting a new vice-chancellor.

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Email to staff members regarding the consultation process

Sydney Firm, Perrett Laver, will be commencing an international search towards the end of January 2017.

‘Soundings’ will be taken from ‘internal stakeholders’ such as students, staff, members of the university council, and the senior executive team. In his email, the Chancellor noted that he ‘…is keen for the broader university community to be given an opportunity to brief [Perrett Laver] on the characteristics and capabilities of our next vice-chancellor’.

The Chancellor was not available for comment as he is currently on leave, but his office made a few comments to On Dit regarding the consultation process. They mentioned that SRC President, Mark Pace, and AUU President, Brodie Scott will be involved in the consultation process. The university council representatives will also be involved in this process which goes without saying considering one of their main functions is to appoint the vice-chancellor. The proposed amendments to the University Act dictating the number of positions and tenure of the council will not affect this process given that these changes, if passed, will not come into effect until 2019.

The Chancellor’s office also stressed their opinion that this level of consultation has never been done before at the University and that students, staff, and other relevant parties will have a great deal of agency over this decision.

While one of the main functions of students on the university council is to help appoint the vice-chancellor, the chancellor makes no mention of any students forming the composition of the selection panel in his email.

‘…the selection panel which, with me, comprises: Professor Ian Young; Professor John Williams; The Hon Catherine Branson; Ms Christine Locher; and Mr David Hill’.

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No mention of students on selection panel in chancellor’s email

The omission of students from this panel is likely due to this email being circulated amongst members of staff. This would make sense considering his office confirmed to On Dit that students on the council will have the same voting rights as other members.

In terms of broader engagement, Brodie Scott would like to see more straightforward student involvement:

‘Just the act of reaching out to students for simple information about what they value as well as what they would like to see in the next Vice-Chancellor and making the results an important part of the selection would be a landmark moment for University-student relations.’

Mark Pace has expressed to On Dit that ‘the SRC will be looking for a vice-chancellor who will commit to supporting and working with the student union and student representatives on campus to improve our university community’.

The recommendation to select a new vice-chancellor is expected to occur at a university council meeting scheduled for 30 May 2017.

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