AUSTRALIA’s chief defence scientist Dr Alex Zelinsky AO has been appointed the University of Newcastle’s eighth vice-chancellor, following a worldwide search spanning four continents.
UON chancellor Paul Jeans said the university considered “more than a couple of dozen” candidates including a number of serving vice-chancellors, who were collated through a formal application process and pursued through an international search firm.
Mr Jeans said Dr Zelinsky was sought after and invited to apply.
“It’s a great compliment to UON and those that have come before Alex that this university is the one he’s chosen to come to,” Mr Jeans said.
“We were looking for people not only with traditional academic backgrounds, but people who had perhaps taken a more diverse route towards their current positions.
“Alex is delighted to have been chosen and very, very enthusiastic about taking it on and making a difference.”
Dr Zelinsky is a computer scientist, roboticist and systems engineer and his career spans innovation, science and technology, education, research and development and commercial start ups.
He co-founded safety technology firm Seeing Machines, which uses smart cameras and algorithms to track a driver’s face, eyes and eyelids to monitor attention and alertness.
He was also group executive of information sciences at CSIRO and held an academic and research leadership role at the Australian National University.
Mr Jeans said Dr Zelinsky stood out for his values “particularly in the fields of equity and excellence”; interdisciplinary work; strong networks across academia, industry and government; record of delivering good outcomes; and “collaborative, inclusive but also decisive” leadership style.
“All of his career he has been involved in the translation of research for economic and social benefit.
“That is already a strength of UON and we see his appointment as not only reinforcing but accelerating that translation process. He’s also very committed to the involvement of employers and industry in education.”
Mr Jeans said UON and Dr Zelinsky were “very comfortable with the direction UON is taking, so it’s [his role] more a question of emphasis and acceleration”.
UON started searching in February for a successor to Professor Caroline McMillen, who will retire on November 4 after seven years.