Personnel is policy

Despite the grand title and the fancy shmancy “uniform”, a University Chancellor is essentially the chairman of the governing board of our universities.

TAFKAS is not certain who actually charters our universities, but suspects that, with the exception of ANU, they are generally the property of state governments who, subject to the constitution of the University, appoint the directors (or most of them) and the Chairman.

What does it then say about what is considered the purpose of our universities given the “gene pool” of Chancellors:

  1. ANU – Julie Bishop
  2. UNSW – David Gonski
  3. University of Sydney – Belinda Hutchinson
  4. University of Queensland – Peter Varghese
  5. UTS – Catherine Livingsone
  6. RMIT – Ziggy Switkowsi
  7. Monash – Simon McKeon
  8. University of WA – Robert French
  9. James Cook University – James Tweddell

(pls forgive TAFKAS – these are the only ones that come to mind.  No doubt there are others).

So basically … 2 former senior public servants from DFAT.  1 former high court chief justice.  1 former politician (foreign minister).  5 “business” people/professional directors (2 of whom are big 4 bank Chairmen, 1 was chair of Suncorp and another was chairman of AMP.

Is this the extent of the gene pool from which university chancellors come?

If the people are policy line is correct, what might be a conclusion – financial services, government and foreign policy/affairs bias.

Anything on research or freedom of expression or education?  Apparently not.

Consider this the next time you read about the next scandal at UQ, JCU, USyd, UTS.

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31 Responses to Personnel is policy

  1. Sinclair Davidson

    Universities are chartered by State governments (except ANU) and operate as quasi-QUANGOS. They are not owned by State governments per se.

  2. cuckoo

    I get the Melbourne Uni alumnus newsletter and it makes Green Left Weekly look like Quadrant.

  3. Roger

    Consider this the next time you read about the next scandal at UQ, JCU, USyd, UTS.

    And consider this:

    Universities get gener0us tax concessions from the Commonwealth government.

    The rationale is that universities are not for profit institutions funded principally by government grants.

    I would argue that rationale is now out of date. Universities may not make a profit per se, but they do derive large amounts of revenue from foreign students, research contracting and consultancy work and investments funded by private donations as well as funding from state governments.

    Given these streams of revenue and the growing perception that universities no longer serve the Australian interest but their own, it’s time for universities to either be taxed, have their grants reduced or submit to an independent inquiry and the far reaching reform that would flow therefrom.

  4. Pyrmonter

    @ TAFKAS, @ Sinc

    They’re creatures of state statutes – and the states can interfere with their governance at will.

    Adelaide was controlled by its graduates until the early 1970s when the spirit of the age regarded the Council as too pale, stale and male. Then a Council that with a hodgepodge representation that made the German ‘Mitbestimmung’ model look straightforward (different electorates for students, academic staff, non-academic staff, graduates, and a slew of parliamentarians); and latterly a Council most of whose members are nominated by … the Council: a modern echo of the municipal corporations done away with by the same reformers who gave us the Great Reform Act. It hasn’t been working so well recently. (The recently departed Chancellor, however, was not reflective of TAFKAS’s categories – he was a former Governor and naval man, though from the defence procurement side)

  5. Mak Siccar

    Being woke and also being in ‘the club’ (high profile, political connections etc) are essential prerequisites. Some of the Chancellors I have encountered have, at one time, been a university student but all (that I can remember) have never taught students or performed research at university level, which I believe should normally be essential requirements. Personally, I am a great supporter of those, in any organisation, who have come through the ranks. I also think that a true leader, along side the troops/workers/minions, should, to some extent, have some skin in the game and suffer the consequences of their decisions.

  6. stackja

    The university was established via the passage of the University of Sydney Act, on 24 September 1850 and was assented on 1 October 1850 by Sir Charles Fitzroy. Two years later, the university was inaugurated on 11 October 1852 in the Big Schoolroom of what is now Sydney Grammar School.

    During the late 1960s, the University of Sydney was at the centre of rows to introduce courses on Marxism and feminism at the major Australian universities. At one stage, newspaper reporters descended on the university to cover brawls, demonstrations, secret memos and a walk-out by David Armstrong, a respected philosopher who held the Challis Chair of Philosophy from 1959 to 1991, after students at one of his lectures openly demanded a course on feminism.[17] The Builders Labourers Federation placed a green ban on the university after two women tutors were not allowed to teach a course but the issue was quickly resolved internally.[18]

    Marie Bashir Chancellor of the University of Sydney (2007–2012)

    Kim Santow Chancellor of the University of Sydney from 2 October 2001 to 31 May 2007

  7. Alan

    Trickle-down bricks.
    “People are not embracing collectivism because they have accepted bad economics. They are accepting bad economics because they have embraced collectivism.”
    — Ayn Rand (1997), “Letters of Ayn Rand”, p.278, Penguin.

  8. Sinclair Davidson

    They’re creatures of state statutes – and the states can interfere with their governance at will.

    This is always true of any organisation or person. Your life or property are not safe while the parliament is in session (paraphrased from Mark Twain, I think).

  9. liliana

    Given these streams of revenue and the growing perception that universities no longer serve the Australian interest but their own, it’s time for universities to either be taxed, have their grants reduced or submit to an independent inquiry and the far reaching reform that would flow therefrom.

    So very true. Why are we funding institutions whose existence in no longer in our best interest?

  10. H B Bear

    Chancellors essentially stand around at drinks and shake down donors as required.

    The Performing Stick Insect is perfect.

  11. Sydney Boy

    Chancellors essentially stand around at drinks and shake down donors as required.

    Correct. It is the Vice-Chancellor who is essentially the CEO. And are over-paid at most universities.

  12. Pyrmonter

    @ HBB, @SB

    The Chancellor is akin to a listed company chairman (-person). There to preside and facilitate the action of the board; and tap the CEO on the shoulder if necessary. The issue is to know when things have got to that stage. It’s notable that the only business people on that list are ones whose businesses are, de facto, protected by the 4 pillars policy and its emanations.

  13. Cynic of Ayr

    “Not for Profit”
    Let’s consider the term as it applies to Universities.
    Said organisations are run by appointed runners. Said runners claim that the idea is to provide a “service” to the “community.” The chinese community seems to get a bit more love than the others, because they pay for it.
    Now, of course, as runners of this institution they demand payment.
    Funnily enough, payment levels are derived from how well the institution is performing, fiscal wise.
    So, essentially, there is no difference between a business owner maximising profits for his pocket, than a chancellor maximising profits for his pocket.
    Can one even imagine the tiny amount of thinking time that the Stick Insect applies to her “job?”

  14. Bruce of Newcastle

    UNSW – David Gonski

    He’s getting the road to Damascus treatment.

    Australia must rethink risk: Gonski (Paywallian, today)

    We need to be more self-sufficient in oil and undertake domestic manufacturing of essential health supplies, the ANZ chairman says.

    He wants us to have enough Gaia’s hated petroleum and domestic manufacturing capacity to survive the wrath of Pooh Bear? Wow, better call Saul.

  15. Suburban Boy

    University councils (boards) are appointed from multiple sources: a few from the state parliament (Commonwealth Parliament for ANU), others by staff, usually one from the undergraduates and others from graduates. The exact composition varies from uni to uni. The chancellor is elected from the council members, not appointed by the state government.

    As for being “non-profit”. Obviously not, although the profits are distributed among the overpaid administrative bosses (seven-figure salaries for VCs, FFS) rather than shareholders, so a pretence of being “not for profit” can be maintained. Much like the sports leagues.

  16. H B Bear

    A university board is about as useful as the ALPBC board.

  17. H B Bear

    It’s easy to be “Not for Profit” when the VC is on $800k.

  18. John A

    So basically … 2 former senior public servants from DFAT. 1 former high court chief justice. 1 former politician (foreign minister). 5 “business” people/professional directors (2 of whom are big 4 bank Chairmen, 1 was chair of Suncorp and another was chairman of AMP.

    Common factor (except the HC judge maybe): experience in “managing” a large bureaucracy of timekeepers.

  19. Squirrel

    The old-style Chancellors were the sort of chaps who knew how to pass the port.

    The current crop are much more about passports – in very, very large numbers.

  20. Bob

    Julie Bishop having earned $370,000 a year as Foreign Minister under Prime Minister Namby-Pamby, now receives a perpetual pension of $210,000 – indexed upwards – for life, and now gets $75,000 + super as a Chancellor? With what qualifications? $385,000 + 9.5% = $421,000. You’re paying for it all.
    And a so-called LiberalParty person ‘Chancelloring’ (if there is such a verb) a rabid far-left university? WTF? We taxpayers are paying enough already for this sad old frump who deludes herself that she is 25, and regularly embarrasses herself by preening in teenage outfits (eugh!) It needs to stop.
    Time to draw a line in the sand.

  21. Leo C

    There is an email going round that states that a VC has evidence of a CG, (maybe Madam Dong from Perth as she left in a hurry) directing attacks on pro democracy HK protests in Australia. If true it will certainly light the fire under the China debate and the speed and response of the current class of VCs will be enlightening.

  22. Rockdoctor

    cuckoo
    #3460684, posted on May 22, 2020 at 11:10 am

    I stopped updating my forwarding address in the late ’90’s for La Trobe’s alumni when I saw where it was heading. Sad as the Bendigo School of Mines (it’s precursor) had a big part in training Australian Miners and some of my lecturers were very knowledgeable.

    I have no time for what Universities have become now and have no sympathy their present circumstances.

  23. ExIronCurtain

    Where is Gareth Evans, former ALP minister and inter-party harmony ministrel, serving his Chancellorship?

  24. inter-party harmony ministrel

    Dear god I love this level of snark.

  25. If you think this is a racket, look at the Victorian Governor and husband.

    Deep state, insider leeches of high grifting success.

    They will retire on three different taxpayer funded pensions.

    LOL

    *1994: Churchill Fellowship. She travelled to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to study strategies employed to reduce delay within the court system.*

    My advice: Don’t flounce around the globe, and work in chambers or in the courtroom.

  26. I said it before and I will say it again.

    We need sortition, and possibly ostracism.

    How many political dynasties does a young democracy really need?

    How many Beazleys, Creans, Katters or Downers must this country suffer?

    We never voted for the Bourbons, so why do we get their impostors?

  27. Crossie

    Personally, I am a great supporter of those, in any organisation, who have come through the ranks.

    Hahaha, you mean merit? Those days are long gone, now it’s all connections.

  28. Crossie

    How many Beazleys, Creans, Katters or Downers must this country suffer?

    You may have a point about the others but Katters?

  29. They have spent their entire lives on the public purse.

  30. Crossie

    The current crop are much more about passports – in very, very large numbers.

    Just look at the concern for the international students from university VCs, the media and politicians yet not a word about domestic students.

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