Peter Rathjen named as the next Vice-Chancellor of Adelaide Uni

Former science graduate, Rhodes Scholar (1985) and current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania, Peter Rathjen, has been named as the next Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide.

Rathjen’s appointment comes after Warren Bebbington resigned from the prestigious position back in December. Professor Rathjen is known for his work in medical research, having lectured in Biochemistry at the University of Adelaide as well as previously holding the position of Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences from 2002–2005.

Rathjen served Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Melbourne from 2008–2011, implementing a controversial program that fired faculty staff members to reduce growing debt.

Rathjen also drew controversy during his tenure as Vice-Chancellor at UTas, racking up an astonishing $50,000 in travel expenses in the first six months of his appointment, with the University reportedly footing the bill.

Rathjen has been credited for his diplomacy, namely for his leadership in the expansion of the University of Tasmania’s campuses in Burnie and Launceston. He criticised the tertiary sector’s reliance on traditional 3 year bachelor degrees and went on to implement short, 2 year associate degrees — something that federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham wants to introduce to universities.

In 2015, Rathjen was a beneficiary to a pay rise of $250,000, taking home an annual pay-checque that was between $585,000–590,000. This was only a few grand shy of his predecessor Bebbington who was paid in the $940,000–955,000 pay bracket.

Chancellor Kevin Scarce has expressed confidence in the new Vice-Chancellor, in an email to faculty staff this afternoon.

“The panel couldn’t imagine a person better placed to lead us at this challenging time for the tertiary sector,” he said.

“Professor Rathjen will build on the University’s extraordinary success and trusted brand, by developing a strategy of continual growth.”

With the tertiary sector set to be hit with massive budget cuts, pending changes to University Council governance and the University of Adelaide’s ‘2016–2035 Masterplan’ on the horizon, this will present unique challenges for the 21st Vice Chancellor.

Professor Rathjen will commence his tenure from early 2018, with Professor Mike Brooks continuing the role as Interim Vice-Chancellor in the meantime.

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