University re-elects "strong champion" for a third term as Chancellor

University re-elects "strong champion" for a third term as Chancellor

The University of Sydney has re-appointed Belinda Hutchinson to the role of Chancellor for a further four-year term.

Hutchinson, a leading business figure, is chairman of Thales Australia and a director of Qantas, and sits on a number of not-for-profit boards, including Australian Philanthropic Services and St Vincent’s Health Australia’s NSW Advisory board.

The announcement comes as the University grapples with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the higher education sector, which is expected to take an $8bn hit.

In March, the University announced a freeze on spending to manage a budget shortfall triggered by the virus’ outbreak. Vice Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said current estimates predict that the University is facing a shortfall of more than $200m as part of its $2.8bn budget.

However, Dr Spence said he believes Hutchinson, whom he called “a strong champion”, will “continue to lead the institution into the future as it prepares for a period of change with new challenges and opportunities ahead”.

The influential Chancellor’s third term – which was given the nod by the University’s Senate on Friday – will start on 7 February 2021 and run to 6 February 2025. She has been the University’s Chancellor since 2013.

Hutchinson said she was pleased to be able to continue supporting the wellbeing of the University’s community, while advocating for a strong University and higher education sector.

“I am determined to help provide some vital stability, as we all adapt to this new world we find ourselves in and as we transition to a new Vice-Chancellor when Michael departs for the UK at the end of the year,” Hutchinson said.

“I remain incredibly proud of the University of Sydney, its staff and students, and the vital role our community plays in education and research that’s of benefit to Australia and the world”.

Hutchinson went on to highlight the importance of universities during this unprecedented time.

“Now, more than ever before, the role of universities is critical. We’ve emerged from this summer’s devastating bushfires into a pandemic that’s taking a heavy toll on the world,” she said.

“Our researchers are working tirelessly on solutions to these and other problems, while our teaching staff continue to provide exemplary teaching and learning for our students in new and exciting ways”.

Meanwhile, the University has started advertising for its new Vice-Chancellor and Principal. Advertisements for the role started appearing from Monday in Australia and around the world.

“We will be looking for someone who will be able to inspire and lead our community and ensure we sustain and build on our capacity and reputation for world-leading teaching and research,” Hutchinson said.

In February, Dr Spence announced he will conclude his term in December 2020 to take up the role as President and Provost of University College London from January 2021.

Since then the University’s Senate has initiated recruitment for the role and appointed specialist search firm Perrett Laver to assist with the process.

The University expects to complete the recruitment process by the end of the year subject to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.