Tom Calma appointed next UC Chancellor

Tom Calma appointed next UC Chancellor

Edward O'Daly

26 April 2013: It was announced on campus today that Tom Calma AO will be the next Chancellor of the University of Canberra.

Dr Calma, who is Deputy Chancellor and the 2013 ACT Australian of the Year, will take over from current Chancellor John Mackay when his term ends at the end of the year.

“It is a real privilege firstly to be recognised by my peers to be worthy to take on this important role and secondly, and equally important, to be taking over the governance of a fast growing young university that has been professionally led by John Mackay,” Dr Calma said.

“I was particularly interested in the role as the University of Canberra has an excellent Council, Vice-Chancellor, vision and strategic plan. There are exciting times ahead with many opportunities and major projects in the pipeline, including a health hub, a sports hub and infrastructure developments.”

Dr Calma said he was proud to be one of a small number of Indigenous Australians in senior governance positions in higher education.

Tom Calma

Dr Tom Calma will be the next Chancellor of the University of Canberra. Photo: Michelle McAulay.

“A handful of Indigenous people are on university governance councils,” Dr Calma said. “Importantly, we have all been appointed on merit and we are all contributing to the institution we are involved with. I hope that the university community and the public can celebrate the appointment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to senior academic and governance positions.”

Dr Calma acknowledged the ongoing work of incumbent Chancellor Dr Mackay.

“John Mackay is an efficient, effective and inspirational leader of the University Council. His broad networks in the community, sporting sector and in the political arena are phenomenal and very beneficial to the University.”

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker said Dr Calma had already made a significant contribution to the University.

“Tom Calma has been an insightful and enthusiastic member of our governing Council since 2008,” Professor Parker said.

“I was delighted when he took on the role of Deputy Chancellor and I look forward to working with him as Chancellor.

“It is great for the University to have an Australian of Tom Calma’s stature as Chancellor and I’m particularly proud that we have appointed one of the nation’s first Indigenous chancellors.”

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About Tom Calma

Tom Calma is an Aboriginal elder of the Kungarakan tribal group, a member of the Iwaidja tribal group and a tireless champion for the rights, responsibilities and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Dr Calma was appointed National Coordinator Tackling Indigenous Smoking in March 2010 to lead the fight against tobacco use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Dr Calma’s most recent previous position was that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010. He also served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009.

He has campaigned for health, social justice, inclusion and equality issues, about which he feels strongly. His 2005 Social Justice Report laid the foundation for the Close the Gap Campaign; a collaboration of some 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian health and human rights groups.

Dr Calma has been involved in and with the tertiary education sector since 1980 as an academic, in representing Australia's interest in higher education internationally, on research grants, in reviewing administrative and academic structures and on advisory boards and committees at eight universities.

He became Deputy Chancellor of the University of Canberra on 1 January 2012 and will take over as Chancellor on 1 January 2014.