Paddy Nixon to take the helm at Canberra

UUK vice-president heading back Down Under after five years in Northern Ireland

December 20, 2019
Paddy Nixon University of Canberra

British computer scientist Paddy Nixon has been named the next vice-chancellor of the University of Canberra, succeeding Indian biologist Deep Saini.

Professor Nixon, who currently heads Ulster University in Northern Ireland, will assume his new role in June.

Canberra chancellor Tom Calma hailed Professor Nixon’s skills in “inspiring staff, bridging industry and research” and “championing a civic university ethos deeply embedded in the community”.

“We are delighted to welcome Professor Nixon to our city and university,” he said.

Professor Nixon served at the University of Tasmania between 2010 and 2015, as pro vice-chancellor and later deputy vice-chancellor for research, before returning to the UK. He is vice-president of representative group Universities UK and chairs the advisory group for the organisation’s review of university admissions practices.

Under Professor Nixon’s tenure, Ulster University won the 2017 Times Higher Education Award for most improved student experience. “He has a deep commitment to a student-centric approach across all areas of the student experience, from face-to-face to online,” Canberra said in a statement.

Professor Nixon stressed the need for universities to maintain “place-based” missions focused on their communities as well as on students. He said that Canberra was uniquely placed to be the “national exemplar” of a modern civic university. “Canberra has always been an innovator and willing to challenge,” he said.

“As the first in my family to attend university, I have a personal understanding of the significant impact a university education can have,” he added.

Professor Saini, who completed his term at UC this week, is returning to Canada – where he has spent much of his career – to lead Dalhousie University. He was Australia’s only vice-chancellor without Australian, European or North American heritage.

That mantle will now pass to Bangladesh-born chemical engineer Amit Chakma, who has been appointed to lead the University of Western Australia from July.

Canberra’s vice-president of university relations and strategy, Belinda Robinson, will serve as interim vice-chancellor from next month. Ms Robinson is a former chief executive of Universities Australia.

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