La Trobe Chancellor the Hon John Brumby AO said that Professor Dewar had done an outstanding job leading La Trobe since January 2012 and that he would leave a lasting legacy.
“In a testament to John’s leadership and his standing in the higher education sector, he is one of the longest serving current Vice-Chancellors at an Australian University,” Mr Brumby said.
“John has overseen more than a decade of significant progress and achievement at La Trobe, which has allowed us to expand the positive benefits of our work to the students we teach, the communities we serve, the industries with which we partner, and through the world-class research we produce.
“He has built an outstanding leadership team and attracted some of the best teaching and research talent to La Trobe. His staff have delivered significant success, as reflected through numerous indicators.
“These include increasing research income by 149 per cent to more than $100 million last year; considerably improving La Trobe’s position in all the major world rankings; further expanding the University’s regional footprint to widen access to higher education and address workforce need; and attracting more than $100 million in philanthropic funding through La Trobe’s first ever fundraising campaign, Make The Difference.
“New and lasting partnerships across wide-ranging sectors have been established under John’s leadership; and La Trobe was also the first Australian university to commit to divesting from fossil fuels, and will be the first Victorian university to reach net zero.
“Most of all, John’s effective leadership when supporting our students, staff and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic – one of the University’s most challenging periods – has meant that La Trobe has emerged in a strong position to thrive into the future.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said that it had been an incredible privilege to lead La Trobe over the last 11 years and that he looked forward to continuing to lead the University’s ambitious forward program in 2023, including further development of the University City of the Future.
“It’s an honour to be part of an organisation that has such a strong tradition of combining excellence, accessibility, innovation, and impact in ways that directly benefit our communities while helping to address the challenges facing our region and the world,” Professor Dewar said.
“When I came to La Trobe, I knew it was a university with a mission to serve diverse communities across Melbourne’s north and throughout regional Victoria.
“I will leave the University with enduring admiration and respect for the passion and determination our people bring to this mission every day. I have been inspired to come to work each day and see firsthand the dedication of our staff to widening access to higher education to people from all walks of life.
“In the meantime, work will continue throughout 2023 on our ambitious forward program, including further development of our University City of the Future; continuing our partnership with CSIRO and government to establish an Australian Food Innovation Centre; strengthening our presence and expanding our course offerings in the regions; and welcoming students back to our campuses in very significant numbers following a tremendously successful enrolment period over the summer.”
La Trobe University Council will now commence an international recruitment process to appoint the University’s next Vice-Chancellor.
La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO – Background notes
Read Professor John Dewar’s biography on the La Trobe website.
Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO – key achievements have included:
- Research income increased by 149 per cent from $41 million in 2012 to $102 million in 2022 – the first time research income has exceeded $100 million in the University’s history.
- University rankings have improved across the board with La Trobe recently achieving its highest ever position of 296 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and rising 46 places to 316 in the QS World University rankings.
- Alumni donations and bequests have grown exponentially, from about $1 million in 2012, to receiving one of the single largest gifts to an Australian university in 2022, with a $45 million gift to support La Trobe’s autism research.
- The launch of the University’s first-ever fundraising campaign, Make the Difference, has been extraordinarily successful and raised more than $100 million in less than five years.
- New partnerships established across business, sport, industry, and the arts, including with Optus, Cisco, Medibank, Melbourne City Football Club, Carlton Football Club, the National Gallery of Victoria, The Australian Ballet, and the State Library of Victoria.
- Establishment of the La Trobe University Press in 2017, which is now regarded as one of the nation’s most important scholarly publishers.
- A national sustainability leader for the sector. Under John’s leadership, La Trobe was the first Australian university to commit to divesting from fossil fuels and will be the first Victorian university to reach net zero.
- John is a widely respected leader in Australia’s higher education sector. He is currently Chair of Universities Australia, was previously Chair of the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) network, and has served on several Ministerial advisory boards. In 2020, John was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in recognition of his distinguished service to education through leadership roles in the universities sector, and to professional organisations.
Key regional achievements
As Victoria’s only true state-wide university, La Trobe’s regional footprint has significantly grown over the past decade, providing regional communities with pathways and qualifications to meet student demand and workforce need. Some key highlights over the past decade have included:
- Strengthening of the La Trobe Rural Health School, which offers courses on all four regional campuses, so that today it is Australia’s largest rural health school, and graduates hundreds of nurses, dentists, paramedics, social workers, midwives, and allied health practitioners each year – the vast majority of whom go on to work in rural and regional areas. In 2018, the University secured Commonwealth recognition as a ‘University Department of Rural Health.’
- Strong engagement with each regional community through positive partnerships with respective regional advisory boards.
- Launched in 2019, La Trobe’s unique rural medical pathway program in partnership with the University of Melbourne provides a medical pathway in Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga to train regional doctors and boost the regional and rural medical workforce.
- A $50 million investment in infrastructure, completed in 2020, includes a new state-of-the-art engineering and technology building and contemporary library with active learning spaces and home to the Sandhurst collection, a digital learning lab, and modern event spaces.
- Partnered and co-located with the Bendigo Tech School, creating opportunities for joint education and industry programs.
- Introduced a range of new short courses delivered from Bendigo including on Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools and a Re-entry to Practice for Registered Nurses.
- The establishment of several research initiatives, supported by generous philanthropy, to improve health and wellbeing in regional communities – including the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research, Holsworth Research Initiative, and Holsworth Biomedical Research Initiative.
- Secured a significant collection of Chinese art valued at $3.15M, donated to La Trobe by Dr Geoff Raby AO, and displayed to the public for the first time at the Bendigo Art Gallery in partnership with the La Trobe Art Institute.
- The University has significantly increased access to higher education in Shepparton, including through pathways into higher education such as the successful Bradford Shepparton Pathway Program. In 2021, of the 64 students who completed the program, 78 per cent were on track to attend university – compared to just 13 per cent of all 19-21 year-olds in Shepparton who move into higher education.
- A major redevelopment of our Shepparton campus is underway including high-tech clinical teaching spaces, a dedicated space for the Ngarrapna Indigenous Unit, modern study areas, and a flexible space for community events. The Australian Government is contributing $5 million towards the project with the remainder funded by La Trobe.
- La Trobe’s Shepparton campus has become a significant component of the Shepparton Education Plan and has built a strong partnership with Goulburn Ovens TAFE (GOTAFE) and local schools.
- La Trobe’s Mildura campus has continued to increase access to higher education in Mildura, offering quality programs that appeal to students and address regional workforce need, including the Bachelor of Education (now offered across all of our regional campuses). The campus has graduated hundreds of nurses, allied health practitioners, social workers, teachers, and accountants.
- Strong partnerships have been built with the Sunraysia Institute of TAFE, Mildura Rural City Council, and health, human services, and community partners to increase access to higher education through a range of pathway programs.
- Investment to deliver new state-of-the-art labs for nursing students, the construction of which will get underway this year.
- Cutting-edge research and innovation partnerships, including with Cann Group on protected cropping, and through our membership of the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre.
- A strong partnership created with Mildura Base Public Hospital to improve and retain rural health workforces, develop educational opportunities for prospective Indigenous students, share teaching and training facilities, and take a collaborative approach to research in rural strategic priority areas.
- Launched in 2019, La Trobe’s unique rural medical pathway program in partnership with the University of Melbourne provides a medical pathway in Albury-Wodonga and Bendigo to train regional doctors and boost the regional and rural medical workforce.
- Research income has increased for the world-leading John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research (JRC) and the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems (CFE). Both centres continue to deliver research impact to local and wider communities.
- New courses, including a Diploma of Rural Health, are helping regional students meet workforce need.
- More choice of majors and subjects are now offered, as well as more flexibility for students at all life stages, such as through the first fully online regional Bachelor of Psychology.
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