Former Deputy PM named 8th University of Newcastle Chancellor

Friday, 4 June 2021

The University of Newcastle Council has today announced that former Deputy Prime Minister The Hon. Mark Vaile AO will be the eighth Chancellor of the University of Newcastle.

The Hon. Mark Vaile AO

Making the announcement today, Deputy Chancellor Michelle McPherson said Mr Vaile’s credentials were exemplary and included strong connections to the region.

“Council members voted unanimously for Mr Vaile – a clear reflection of his credentials to be head of our University as well as a vote of confidence in his commitment to this region,” Ms McPherson said.

“Mr Vaile’s experience with our international partners right through to our local communities will be invaluable for our future both in our regions and on the world stage and our full Council looks forward to working with him,” she said.

Mr Vaile served as Leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister from 2005 to 2007.

His impressive political career started when he entered local government as an Alderman at Greater Taree City Council from 1985. He was elected to the Federal House of Representatives in 1993. Whilst in government, Mr Vaile held several ministerial positions including Transport and Regional Development, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. In the pivotal role of Minister for Trade, Mr Vaile negotiated a number of Australia’s key Trade Agreements including the Singapore-Australia Agreement, the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement and the Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement.

Since leaving Federal Parliament in July 2008, Mr Vaile has embarked on a career in the private sector and has served on the Boards of a number of ASX-listed companies and large organisations including Servcorp, StamfordLand, HostPlus, Virgin Australia, 123 Education China, Whitehaven Coal, CBD Renewable Energy, and Palisade Investment Partners.

“I am grateful and deeply humbled to have been invited to be the next Chancellor of the University of Newcastle,” Mr Vaile said.

“I look forward with great anticipation to working with Council and Vice-Chancellor Zelinsky as we face the challenges and embrace the significant opportunities ahead of us,” Mr Vaile said.

Mr Vaile will commence on 1 July 2021 following the retirement of Chancellor Paul Jeans on 30 June 2021.  Mr Jeans is retiring on the completion of his second four-year term as the University’s seventh Chancellor.

“I also pass on my best wishes and thanks to outgoing Chancellor Paul Jeans for his eight-year term. He leaves the University in great shape and as a stand-out amongst its peers, particularly in terms of access and Indigenous education,” Mr Vaile said.

The University of Newcastle’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO congratulated Mr Vaile on his appointment.

“We’ve graduated more than 150,000 students over the years and we are among our region’s largest employers, so we know the person at the head of our governing body takes on a heavy but important responsibility,” Professor Zelinsky said.

“My warm congratulations to Mr Vaile on this prestigious appointment. I look forward to working with him and Council to further build on our University’s outstanding achievements.”

“Let me also say that I’ve been fortunate to work under the stewardship of Chancellor Paul Jeans for the past two and half years and witness the high esteem with which he is held by our community, staff and students, and our government and industry partners.”

Mr Jeans described his tenure as Chancellor at the University of Newcastle as a wonderful experience and an extraordinary privilege.

“During my time as Chancellor, we have graduated some 73,000 people and every graduation has reinforced in me the importance of what we do here at the University of Newcastle,” he said.

“I am reminded of the incredible efforts our staff go to, to ensure students from all walks of life with ability and drive can come to us and change the course of their lives through education.

“I was particularly proud of all the graduating students of 2020 and the staff who helped them achieve their goals despite the enormous challenges of COVID-19,” he said.

During Chancellor Jeans’ tenure, the University has achieved its highest ever global ranking, currently at 197th in world according to QS World University Rankings and has reinforced its place as the sector leader in Indigenous education, with the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander full time equivalent students for any Australian university.

“The power of education is one thing. The delivery of education in an environment that celebrates Indigenous culture is what makes our University truly special,” Mr Jeans said.

Mr Jeans’ tenure will also be remembered for many game-changing infrastructure investments that include NUspace in the Newcastle CBD, the Honeysuckle site acquisition and completion of its first stage of construction, the Bioresources facility and student accommodation at Callaghan and the Central Coast Clinical School and Research Institute in Gosford.

“I leave here knowing that the University and its people have the courage, strength and commitment to face challenges head on and to prevail. I will watch its ongoing success with great pride,” Mr Jeans said.

“Chancellor Jeans’ leadership and dedication has been phenomenal. He has represented the University with distinction and has our students, staff and communities at the heart of all decisions,” Deputy Chancellor Michelle McPherson said.

“Alongside my fellow Council Members, I’ve been fortunate to be part of this strong team led by Paul and I’m grateful for his legacy which will continue to benefit our students, staff and the communities we serve,” she said.


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