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University of Adelaide names new Chancellor

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The University of Adelaide has confirmed today that former Crown Solicitor and Federal Court Judge, the Honourable Catherine Branson AC QC, will step into the role of Chancellor.

The news comes just over two months after a surprise shake up that saw Branson’s predecessor, the Honourable Kevin Scarce, step down on May 4 – six months ahead of schedule. Just a day later, it was revealed Vice Chancellor and President Peter Rathjen AO had taken indefinite ‘special leave’, which in turn prompted an unusual public intervention by ICAC commissioner the Honourable Bruce Lander QC to clarify that while a hitherto unrevealed investigation of allegations of “improper conduct” against the VC was underway, they were not matters of “corruption”.

Combined with the recent departure of Deputy VC Pascale Quester to head Melbourne’s Swinburne University, it’s been a period of rolling upheaval at the top of Adelaide’s oldest University – let alone the impacts of COVID-19 on Australia’s tertiary education system that most recently have seen the Federal Government flag funding restructures that will dilute support for certain humanities courses.

“Cathy Branson takes on this important role at a particularly challenging time for our state, our university and the higher education sector in general,” University of Adelaide councillor and appointment committee chair Christine Locher said in a statement. “But the council had no doubt that they were selecting someone of the highest calibre, proven throughout her outstanding legal and judicial career and in her service to our University.”

University of Adelaide
The Honourable Catherine Branson AC QC

“Cathy’s strong leadership and keen judgement coupled with her long-standing connection and support of this University will all be of crucial importance as we continue to respond to COVID-19 and ensure a strong and sustainable future for our University,” acting Vice Chancellor Professor Mike Brooks said.

Branson spent 14 years as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, after a legal career in South Australia that saw her become the state’s first woman to hold the office of Crown Solicitor and permanently head a government department during her tenure as Chief Executive Officer of the Attorney-General’s department. She will be only the second woman to hold the Chancellor position, following Dame Roma Mitchell’s tenure in the early 90s.

“As a South Australian and graduate of this University, I have long been proud of its global standing and the contribution it has made, and continues to make, to the State over almost 150 years,” Branson said of her new appointment.

“I am honoured to be overseeing its governance, and helping ensure the University continues to provide the world-class education and research our State needs for its recovery and strong future.”

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country.

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