12 June 2024

Professor aims to keep uni on course while hunt is underway for new vice-chancellor

| Jen White
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Man standing in front of a garden.

John Dewar has been appointed Wollongong University’s Interim Vice-Chancellor for at least the next six months. Photo: UOW.

Professor John Dewar aims to provide stability, certainty and a sense of purpose as he steers Wollongong University through its search for a new Vice-Chancellor.

The former La Trobe university vice-chancellor has been appointed UOW’s Interim Vice-Chancellor and President, following the surprise resignation of former vice-chancellor Patricia Davidson in April. He will start in the role on 24 June.

UOW Chancellor Michael Still said Prof Dewar was an exceptional leader who would bring extensive experience and knowledge to the role, having served 12 years at La Trobe University.

“As one of Australia’s longest serving vice-chancellors he brings a wealth of experience and an in-depth understanding of the challenges facing the tertiary education sector having overseen a decade of significant achievements at La Trobe University,” Mr Still said.

READ ALSO UOW vice-chancellor resigns: ‘the right time to pass the baton on’

“UOW is a tremendous university, has tremendous history, research background as well as excellent teaching, and Prof Dewar will ensure our staff and students remain focused on their pursuit of excellence.”

Prof Dewar said he was looking forward to working with UOW’s staff, students and community to find the opportunities in the challenges facing the higher education sector.

He told ABC Illawarra that UOW was a “fantastic institution that’s very important to the region”.

He said its recent ranking of 167 in the prestigious QS World University Rankings was an amazing achievement for a university outside of a metropolitan city.

As a recent Chair of Universities Australia, he said he was well aware of the issues all Australian universities were dealing with, including the Uni Accord and changes to international student requirements.

READ ALSO Green light for UOW’s Health and Wellbeing Precinct concept plans

“It’s crucial to have someone with experience to help guide the uni through those issues,” he said.

“Every university has to change – there’s no question about that. It’s a really tricky period in the history of higher education in this country.’

He said his remit was to provide stability and a sense of purpose in the short to medium term while the university searched for its new vice-chancellor. He ruled himself out as a candidate and said he planned to return to his current position as a partner at advisory and investment firm KordaMentha.

“I am excited by the opportunity to join UOW. There are some challenges ahead but also some exciting opportunities,” Prof Dewar said.

“What is certain is that UOW will continue to help students uncover their passions, equip researchers to deliver real-world impact and contribute meaningfully to our local and global communities.”

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