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Message from the Chancellor - Interim Vice Chancellor Update

Published: 2nd June 2021

Dear Students of Murdoch University

As promised, I am writing to update you on the progress of the recruitment of our future Vice Chancellor and to advise the appointment of our Interim Vice Chancellor.  As a student at Murdoch University, it is important you are aware of this important decision and the ongoing process to recruit and appoint a new Vice Chancellor.

Interim Vice Chancellor

Following the resignation of our current Vice Chancellor, I have carefully reviewed the University’s priorities and well-established strategy. 

This review process has reinforced to me that consistency, stability and a determination to continue to drive our strategy is critical to the University’s continued success.  Senate supported this need for consistency and continued implementation of our strategy, together with the previously approved initiatives designed to ensure the University’s sustainability in what we all recognise is a difficult global environment.

Accordingly, I am pleased to announce that our current Provost, Professor Romy Lawson, has been appointed by Senate to the role of Interim Vice Chancellor, and she has enthusiastically agreed to guide the University as we transition to new leadership.

Professor Lawson has worked closely with the Vice Chancellor and Senior Executive Group since 2016 and I am confident she is best suited to maintaining a strong and resilient steady state for the University, while honouring our collective work and achievements.

I congratulate Professor Lawson on her appointment and look forward to the University’s successful progression under her Interim leadership.

Future VC

Our next Vice Chancellor will have an important role to ensure Murdoch University continues to attract and retain great students.

With that objective in mind, I have recently conducted a series of Future VC forums aimed at seeking feedback from Murdoch staff regarding the required attributes of a new Vice-Chancellor.  These Forums also included a session with the Student Guild.

Our Guild President, David Urginov has subsequently held a similar forum with representative student groups to ensure the views of all students will inform this process.

This feedback is now being consolidated to create a “Leadership Success Profile” that will feature in a booklet to be made available to potential Vice Chancellor candidates.

Selection Committee Appointed

I am also pleased to advise that Senate has approved the formation of a VC Selection Committee.  This Committee will have the task of recommending a preferred Vice-Chancellor candidate to Senate for its consideration and approval. 

Senate was careful to ensure a balance of internal and external representation, as well as inclusion of strong academic and university leadership experience, as well as student representation.

As Chair of the Senate, I will Chair the Committee and the Deputy Chancellor will be the Deputy Chair.

The President of the Murdoch University Student Guild, David Ugrinov, will represent our students on the committee.

The two elected staff members of the Senate – Associate Professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk and Julie Whitlock – will also be on the Selection Committee, as will Professor Jeremy Nicholson,  adding research-focused academic representation.

It is also considered important to include a Committee member of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.  Emeritus Professor Colleen Hayward, AO has agreed to be a Committee member, bringing significant higher education experience.  Emeritus Professor Hayward also maintains recent experience as a member of the Murdoch University Senate.

Finally, we have sought the involvement of an experienced and current Vice-Chancellor from outside Western Australia and I am pleased to advise the Vice Chancellor of University of Queensland, Professor Deborah Terry, has agreed to participate as a Committee member. 

As always, I will continue to keep you updated as we progress with the appointment of our new Vice Chancellor.


Gary Smith