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Melbourne University extends Glyn Davis’s term as vice-chancellor; ends ABC speculation

Melbourne University has extended the term of Glyn Davis, ending speculation that the innovative vice-chancellor was poised to become the new head of the ABC.

Words by Annie Blatchford

The University announced that it had extended Professor Davis’s contract by two years to the end of 2018.


It had been widely speculated that Professor Davis, with a background in media and politics, was a possible replacement for Mark Scott, the ABC’s managing director, who announced in September that he would not be seeking to extend his term with the public broadcaster.

In an email to the university staff, Chancellor Elizabeth Alexander said the reappointment of Professor Davis, who took the reins of the university in 2005, recognised “the outstanding achievements” of the institution under his stewardship.

She added that the university council recognised the work the 56-year-old Professor Davis had carried out during his tenure, including the introduction of the ‘Melbourne Model’, which required students to complete a general undergraduate degree before specialising in an area of study as postgraduate students.

In an email exchange, Professor Davis said he was flattered to have been approached by the ABC, but added that he was never a real candidate.

He said the Chancellor had told him earlier this year that the university council wanted him to see through its ‘Growing Esteem’ strategy, which focuses on international research collaboration with industry and other partners, a subject on which he clashed recently with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“In many ways, the university is thriving, but it is a competitive sector. The strategy is about asking ourselves what do we need to do to make sure our future is secure, while staying true to the principles we established 10 years ago,” Professor Davis wrote.

He added: “My next few years will be focused on the strategy’s complete implementation.”

Professor Davis said his role as vice-chancellor was a privilege that he took very seriously.

“I am looking forward to the next few years and guiding the university during an interesting yet challenging time for the higher education sector.”

Referring to his time as vice-chancellor so far, he added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the role, from new curriculum development and new infrastructure development, to fostering a culture of broader engagement across the university. I am relishing the chance to continue in it for a few more years.” 

Professor Davis previously headed up Queensland’s Griffith University and held senior positions in the Queensland bureaucracy. He completed his doctoral thesis on the political independence of the ABC, at the Australian National University, and in 2010 delivered the 51st Boyer Lecture series for the ABC on the topic of “The Republic of Learning: higher education transforms Australia”.

► This story was updated on November 10, 2015. 

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