The full list of corporate and non-corporate university chancellors is now available on the website here. The current tally is 12 corporate chancellors and 16 non-corporates and the new names are as follows:

University of Central Queensland, Rennie Fritschy: former head of Queensland Alumina in Gladstone and current Queensland adviser to Alinta.

Notre Dame, Justice Neville Owen: WA judge and HIH Royal Commissioner.

Newcastle University, Trevor Waring: psychologist and academic.

University of Tasmania, Damian Bugg QC: the outgoing Commonwealth DPP is a lawyer with no corporate background.

Victoria University, Hon Frank Vincent: retired Victorian judge.

I had a chat to an incumbent chancellor yesterday who said the rise of corporate chancellors is not surprising given that universities are now expected to run like businesses.

It was the Hawke Labor government which started this process when universities were required to start trying to commercialise their research and development.

However, the more important step-change came when the Howard Government dramatically changed the emphasis by requiring universities to chase far more revenue through fee-paying students.

The bigger and more prestigious universities such as Melbourne, Monash, UNSW, UQ and UWA have all opted for corporate chancellors and the Sydney University Senate now has a very big decision to make after retired judge Kim Santow announced yesterday that he would be stepping down in May.

Justice Santow’s main rationale was as follows:

The paramount reason is one of principle. By the end of May of this year I will have served 5½ years. The first 1½ years were the balance of Dame Leonie Kramer’s term and I was then re-elected for a further four years. Put simply, it is my conviction that 9½ years would be too long for a Chancellor to serve Sydney University in this contemporary era.

It’s a sentiment that UQ’s 71-year-old Sir Llew Edwards should heed as he goes into his 15th year as chancellor – an amazing feat considering he was Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s deputy and Treasurer during the heady period from 1978 until 1983.

Another university corporate in a spot of bother at the moment is former Caltex chairman and Telstra director Malcolm Irving.

Irving, 77, is Maurice Newman’s deputy chancellor at Macquarie University and was mentioned in today’s SMH coverage on Di Yerbury art collection struggle.

However, Malcolm’s mind is probably elsewhere having spent most of the week in court facing a liquidator’s examination over the collapse of Reynolds Wines, a company he chaired.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey