12/07/2013 - 15:29

Mining man leads Murdoch

12/07/2013 - 15:29

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IRON MAN: David Flanagan has been named Murdoch University's fifth chancellor. Photo: Grant Currall

Perth's Murdoch University has joined the ranks of tertiary institutions appointing leading resources industry players as chancellors.

Murdoch this week named Atlas Iron chairman David Flanagan as its fifth chancellor, joining Curtin University and University of Western Australia.

Traditionally, universities have tended to appoint chancellors with a background in either law or politics, or well-established corporate leaders.

In Western Australia, however, there has been a consistent leaning toward selecting leaders involved in the high end of the resources sector, with three out of the state's five chancellors engaged in the mining industry.

Mr Flanagan, who is a former geologist with more than 20 years' mining experience, replaces former Bankwest CEO Terry Budge, who has served as Murdoch's chancellor for seven years.

Mr Flanagan's connection to Murdoch has been as a member of the First Murdoch Commission, an inquiry established by the university's vice-chancellor, Richard Higgott, into the growing economic interdependency of WA, Australia and the Asian region.

Murdoch University was recently named for the first time in Times Higher Education's top 100 universities under 50 years old rankings.

Murdoch was ranked at 57, Curtin University at 87.

Last year, Curtin appointed Colin Beckett, who is the operational head of Chevron's $50 billion Gorgon project, as its chancellor, succeeding former WA Water Corporation CEO Jim Gill.

Woodside Petroleum and National Australia Bank chairman Michael Chaney has been chancellor of UWA for seven years.

Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame each have Hendy Cowan and Terence Tobin as chancellors respectively. Both are recognised for their exploits in law and politics.

The peak body representing Australian tertiary institutes, Universities Australia, lists 39 education establishments throughout the country, 12 of which have appointed a chancellor with extensive experience in politics and law.

About 40 per cent of the university chancellors in Australia have either previously or currently hold a corporate leadership position and are board members of top companies including QBE Insurance, Ford and Telstra.

Two other chancellors with a strong resources background hail from universities in Queensland and South Australia.

More than 20 per cent of chancellors are women, who mostly operate in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, according to the UA list.

Former Supreme Court judge Sally Thomas was recently appointed the first female chancellor at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory.

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