Former National Party leader Mark Vaile (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

The appointment of former deputy prime minister and current coal firm chief Mark Vaile as Newcastle University's next chancellor has been met with a predictable controversy.

Some high-profile philanthropists said they would no longer donate to the institution, placing a full-page ad in The Newcastle Herald today saying they “would not support a university who would choose as their leader someone who is determined to build new coalmines when most of the world is determined to reduce fossil fuel use”.

Perhaps anticipating this, Vaile has pointed to another group he chairs: Palisade Investment Partners, an organisation that he said has "$1 billion of assets under management in wind and solar energy technologies". Palisade is also one of 457 investors who put their names to a statement to governments on the climate crisis only last week.