By Rebecca Zhong
The University announced the appointment of Julie Bishop to the role of Chancellor on Thursday. She will be taking over the position in 2020, after Gareth Evans’ term comes to an end this year.
Bishop, who is the first woman to be appointed Chancellor at ANU, will begin her three-year term as Chancellor in January 2020. She was the Liberal Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2013 until 2018. Bishop announced her retirement from politics this February in the lead-up to the Federal Election.
Pro Chancellor Naomi Flutter made the announcement of Bishop’s appointment on the ANU website. In the post, Flutter said that Bishop will be a “compelling and effective advocate” for the University, as someone who “understands [the ANU’s] distinctive role as the national university” and has “maintained a deep interest in education” over the years. Flutter noted Bishop’s role in the creation of the New Colombo Plan, which provides scholarships and grants for Australian undergraduate students to go on exchange in the Indo-Pacific region. In his VC’s update blog, Brian Schmidt wrote that “[Bishop] has been a long-time supporter of ANU”.
Bishop spoke about her appointment in a video. She described the appointment as “a great honour”, and said that she was “excited to be working closely with the university community”. She described ANU as “playing a vital role in the research and development to create a better world”. “I look forward to working with it as we continue to support and further our national interest,” Bishop said.
The Chancellor is the chair of the ANU Council, which is the peak governing authority of the University. The 15-member Council, which includes the Vice Chancellor and representatives of students and staff, makes decisions on the strategic direction and running of the University. The current Chancellor, Gareth Evans, also sits on a number of committees, such as the Campus Planning, Honorary Degrees, Nominations, and Remuneration committees. Beyond this, the position of Chancellor involves ceremonial duties, such as welcome addresses at official University events.
Shortly after the announcement on Thursday, a petition titled “ANU students say NO to Julie Bishop as Chancellor” was created by a student on Change.org. In opposing the appointment, the petition cites Bishop’s position as a frontbencher at the time of the Abbott Government’s push for university fee deregulation and funding cuts to higher education, among other things. At the time of writing, the petition has 143 signatures.
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