The University of Western Australia’s new Vice-Chancellor takes up his role this week and is looking forward to building on the strengths of the University’s staff, students and wider community.
Professor Amit Chakma and his wife Meena flew to Perth from Canada last month and spent 14 days in self-isolation in accordance with Government requirements.
Professor Chakma joins UWA as its 19th Vice-Chancellor following an outstanding career in higher education leadership and academia in Canada, most recently 10 years as President and Vice Chancellor of The University of Western Ontario in Canada.
“I’m very much looking forward to meeting the wonderful staff and students at UWA and finding my way around this very beautiful campus,” Professor Chakma said.
“My main focus will be to connect with the UWA community as we look to recover and rebuild following the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like all universities around the world, we face great challenges. The effects of the current crisis have been experienced differently in different places, but they have been remarkably widespread.
“I have been deeply impressed and moved by the responses of the students and staff of the University that I have seen to date.
"It is very clear that I shall be working with people of remarkable resilience and strength, with the capacity to act innovatively, compassionately and energetically."Professor Amit Chakma
“We should also be mindful that challenges and opportunities go hand in hand. We have important roles to play in both.
“Like all universities worthy of the name, UWA is a creator of new knowledge and a custodian of intellectual endeavour, evidence-based enquiry and academic freedom. They have never been more needed than they are now.”
“We must also be mindful of our responsibility to the local community we serve, ensuring we act to benefit the social and economic wellbeing of the people of Perth and Western Australia.”
From 2001 to 2009 Professor Chakma served as Vice-President (Academic) and Provost of The University of Waterloo in Canada. He was inaugural Chair of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities and has held senior advisory positions with the Canadian Government on international education strategy and science, technology and innovation.
Professor Chakma is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and holds a Master of Applied Science and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of British Columbia. His substantial record of research has covered greenhouse gas control technology, energy and environmental model system modelling, petroleum waste management, gas separation and processing and mass transfer.
UWA Chancellor, Robert French AC, said Professor Chakma came to UWA with demonstrated success in developing high quality teaching and learning while building research capability and important partnerships across academic, government and industry sectors.
“He is committed to combining research excellence with outstanding student experience and has also demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity and equity in access to higher education.
“Professor Chakma has a proven track record and the necessary combination of experience, skills and capacity to lead the University at this important time in its history.”
Professor Chakma also acknowledged interim Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO for her exceptional contribution to UWA during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Professor den Hollander’s leadership in the most trying of times has been extraordinary,” he said.
“She has given service of the highest order to the University and has set an outstanding example of what can be achieved by the combination of intellect, humanity and honesty.”