The University of Tasmania’s new Chancellor will be distinguished alumna and self-described farm girl Alison Watkins.
University Deputy Chancellor Harvey Gibson, who chaired the selection committee, said the appointment was based on Ms Watkins’ deep connection to Tasmania, her extensive corporate and board experience, and strong personal values including a commitment to equity and the enduring power of education.
“The selection committee was seeking a values-centred leader with the capability to deliver a core strategic direction in a time of change,” Mr Gibson said.
“Alison Watkins has those qualities, with outstanding corporate and governance experience, and deeply people-centred values, which will serve us well as she joins our collective mission to align our University’s strengths with Tasmania’s challenges and opportunities.”
The Chancellor chairs the University Council, the governing body of the University. They are a key champion for the University’s mission and play an important role in processes such as conferring degrees during graduation ceremonies.
Ms Watkins was selected by a panel which comprised University Council members, academic leaders, external panellists and a community representative.
“The University’s mission of doing good for Tasmania, and from here making a contribution to the world, is inspiring and I am very excited to have the opportunity to play a part in that,” she said.
“I have always felt my education was a great gift and I have been the recipient of many wonderful things as a result of my time at the University of Tasmania.
“For me this is very much an opportunity to give back.”
Alumnus, former Tasmanian Premier and current University Chancellor Michael Field will finish his term and step down from the role on June 30.
“It has been a great privilege for me to be part of the University’s direction and development in recent years,” Mr Field said.
“When I look at the landscape ahead – in Tasmania, nationally and globally – we are going to be very well placed with a leader of Alison’s extensive experience leading and governing large organisations through times of change, along with her personal commitment to the good which comes with education.”
Ms Watkins grew up on a farm in regional Tasmania. She attended Sorrel District School and St Michael’s Collegiate in Hobart and studied Commerce at the University of Tasmania. She is the first female Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor at the University of Tasmania across its more than 130-year history other than a brief but important period in 1998 when Kim Boyer was Acting Chancellor.