UWA announces Diane Smith-Gander AO as new Chancellor

10/06/2024 | 2 mins

Prominent Australian business leader Diane Smith-Gander AO has been named new Chancellor of The University of Western Australia.

Dr Smith-Gander, who has been associated with UWA for more than 50 years, was elected by the University’s Senate as successor to The Hon Robert French AC, who will retire on 31 December 2024 after seven years as Chancellor.

Dr Smith-Gander currently chairs the UWA Business School Board and is an Adjunct Professor of Corporate Governance at the University.  The University awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Economics in 2015.  Outside the University she is Chair of Zip Co Limited, Perenti Limited, HBF Health Limited, and the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia.

Professor Amit Chakma, Dr Diane Smith-Gander AO and The Hon Robert French ACImage: Professor Amit Chakma, Dr Diane Smith-Gander AO and The Hon Robert French AC.

A UWA alumna, she is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Governance Institute of Australia.  Her distinguished career includes advocacy for gender equity, and she is a past president of Chief Executive Women.

In recognition of her contributions to business and gender equality, Dr Smith-Gander was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2019 and was awarded the Business Award in the West Australian of the Year in 2018.

Dr Smith-Gander, who will formally commence her term on 1 January 2025, said she was thrilled to take up the prestigious role at the institution where she was once a student.

“UWA has done a great deal for me and for our State. I look forward to working with the Senate and the University’s Vice-Chancellor to ensure UWA continues to have great positive impact,” she said.

“I would also like to acknowledge the significant contributions of The Hon Robert French AC during his tenure as Chancellor.”

Mr French said with extensive experience and deep connections within the business, government and academic communities, Dr Smith-Gander brought a profound understanding of the challenges and opportunities in higher education.

“Her leadership will underpin strong governance at UWA, which is essential to its continued growth and success in its core mission of teaching and research,” Mr French said.

The Senate of UWA has also reappointed Professor Amit Chakma for a second term as Vice-Chancellor, commencing 1 July 2025.

Mr French said that Professor Chakma, who began his role in July 2020 amid the challenges of an international pandemic, had provided exceptional leadership.

“His strategic focus and innovative approach have significantly contributed to the University’s growth, enhancing the quality of teaching, research capabilities, and fostering important partnerships across academic, government and industry sectors,” Mr French said.

Professor Chakma said he was looking forward to continuing to work towards UWA’s founding mission for the advancement of the prosperity and welfare of our communities.

“It has been a pleasure to work alongside Chancellor French over the last four years, his guidance and service to our University has been transformational and is valued and respected,” Professor Chakma said.

“I also welcome Dr Smith-Gander and am confident she will be an excellent leader for our Senate and University and look forward to working with her to further the success of our great institution.”

Media references

Liz McGrath (UWA Media Advisor) 08 6488 7975

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