La Trobe appoints new Chancellor

Australian scientist and business woman, Adrienne Clarke, has been appointed Chancellor of La Trobe University.

Adrienne ClarkeA former chairman of the CSIRO and Lieutenant Governor of Victoria, Professor Clarke has been a director of public companies including Woolworths, Alcoa, WMC, AMRAD, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Hexima and AMP.

She is author of four major scientific books dealing with chemistry, cell biology and genetics, and has served on the Prime Minister's Science and Engineering Council and on the Victorian Business Round Table. Professor Clarke was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1991 and Companion of the Order in 2004.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson said La Trobe was delighted Professor Clarke had accepted the post. ‘Her vast experience will be a great asset to the University’s development at this critical time.

‘We are extending our scientific and educational efforts in many areas, especially through the establishment on the Melbourne campus of the $288 million Agribio Centre and the $94m La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, on which construction work begins next week.’

Professor Clarke is Laureate Professor at The University of Melbourne. She is also on boards including the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, the Australian Advisory Board of The Nature Conservancy, and has been a member of the La Trobe University Council since August 2010.

Professor Clarke said education – learning how to learn – was the most important investment Australia can make for its future.

‘La Trobe University has a reputation for excellence in providing education for students from diverse backgrounds and a reputation for excellence in several fields of research. These are great foundations on which to build an even stronger University for the future.

‘I am very honoured to have been given the opportunity to serve and to contribute to this future,’ Professor Clarke said.

Professor Clarke’s scientific work provides critical insight into the biochemistry and genetics of flowering plants, their reproduction and growth. It has led to industrial applications for next-generation controls of insect pests and fungal disease of crops.

As a leading academic, Professor Clarke is a Fellow of both the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. She is a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of Janet Clarke Hall in Melbourne.
Professor Clarke takes up her post on 26 February, following the retirement of leading educationist Sylvia Walton.

Mrs Sylvia Walton has been Chancellor since 2006 and, before that, served as Deputy Chancellor since 1997. She was appointed to the University Council in 1993. 
Farewelling Mrs Walton, Vice-Chancellor Johnson said her contributions and close association with La Trobe over the last 17 years have been ‘unstinting and extremely valuable.’

During that time, she has gained the admiration and confidence of staff, students, parents, graduates and friends of the University for her tireless work and counsel.

Professor Johnson said Mrs Walton’s association with the University went beyond her official duties - back to when she completed her Bachelor of Education in the 1970s.

‘In 2003, she was awarded the Officer, Order of Australia (AO) for her work in education, and in 2007 she received the ACEL Gold Medal – the most prestigious award conferred by the Australian Council for Education Leaders.

‘We thank Mrs Walton for her leadership and guidance over many years and wish her well for her future,’ Professor Johnson said.

Mrs Walton said La Trobe was to be commended now and into the future for its increasingly strong and relevant academic programs.

‘Our research is also moving in a very positive direction as seen in our publications and the growing strength of many of the Faculties. All this relates to the quality and dedication of staff, on the Melbourne and regional campuses, be they academic or general staff’.

She said Vice-Chancellor Paul Johnson and his team were to be commended for their leadership and the way in which they are charting the future.

‘I am absolutely delighted that Professor Adrienne Clarke AC will be our next Chancellor. I know how fortunate the University is in having a person of her public and intellectual standing.’ 

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