Message from incoming Chancellor Hon. Mark Vaile AO

Thursday, 10 June 2021

At our request to learn more about him, incoming Chancellor The Hon. Mark Vaile AO has provided the below message:

I am grateful and deeply humbled to have been invited to be the next Chancellor of the University of Newcastle and thought you might appreciate knowing a little more about me.

Obviously, your institution is held in high esteem across the region – the opportunity to be part of its future and the chance to make such a direct difference to people’s lives through education and research is motivating and exciting.

I live on the Mid-North Coast – it’s an important feeder region for the University. Up here, I hear first-hand the community’s positive views about the University of Newcastle all the time – whether it be in terms of pride about their children graduating, or the value of students doing their placements in local services, or businesses connecting with researchers on projects. The impact of your work as both academic and professional staff is undoubtedly broader and even more valued than you may realise.

I have been impressed by The University’s strategic plan, Looking Ahead, and know many of you were among the 4000-odd people who helped shape the priorities and initiatives that are in it. You have my support in helping champion these priorities and the values of equity, excellence, sustainability and engagement that are in your institution’s DNA. I want to use my broad portfolio of experience alongside Council members to connect communities, close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, find research solutions to perplexing community and industry challenges and help ensure that every student is set up for success.

In particular, I am excited by the role I can play in helping the University deliver on its commitment to become carbon-neutral by 2025. While people often hear about my experience in Australia’s well-established industries in the energy sector, including Whitehaven Coal, they may not be as familiar with other areas of my portfolio. For example, I am the Chair of Palisade Investment Partners – an organisation that has $1 billion of assets under management in wind and solar energy technologies. I support your values and strongly believe that if we are to address the challenges of human-made climate change, we must help our industries and our communities to transition our energy sector – there is no place in this country where this challenge is more important than in the Hunter. What we need is strong leadership, a commitment to innovation and partnership, and a desire to solve the problem together. We will be educating the next generation for many jobs that don’t exist yet, and we need to help our regions and industries see the possibilities and be ready for them.

While the position of Chancellor will be new for me, working to make a positive difference in the higher education sector isn’t. I was Federal Member for Lyne for more than 15 years, including 10 years as a senior Cabinet Minister in the Howard Government where I served as Deputy Prime Minister from 2005 until late 2007. During this time, I was proud to lock in Federal funding for the Manning Education Centre and Student Accommodation which caters for University of Newcastle students studying medicine and nursing in Taree. And I helped secure funding for the campus in Port Macquarie. I’ve got a passion for regional and rural education and the important role it plays in towns across our country.

As Deputy PM, I secured funding for regional education initiatives including the regional loading provided to regional universities which provides additional funding for students. And I delivered a major funding injection into University Rural Clinical Schools and Departments of Rural Health. These initiatives have created a pipeline of medical, nursing and other allied health professionals in regional Australia. I know these efforts continue to make a difference to this day, and I know at your University I’ll be able to advocate and support you all to achieve even more of these successes. The work your University has done to establish the Central Coast Clinical School at Gosford Hospital is yet another example of how the higher education sector plays a critical role in building the workforces our local economies and communities need.

I’m committed to enhancing the University’s global role – particularly in the Asia Pacific. I’ll be using my experience as Federal Trade Minister and the international connections I’ve built throughout my career to help expand our opportunities and engagement internationally. The opportunities for our presence in Singapore, particularly in our post-COVID world, are vast.

I’ve always taken a collaborative approach in my career in politics and in the private sector, and will bring this approach with me to the University. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can when I start in the role next month and being an advocate for your work and the impact it is making to people in our regions and beyond.


Mark has also recorded a video message which can be viewed below:

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.