UNIVERSITY of Newcastle Chancellor Paul Jeans has defended the selection of Whitehaven Coal chairman Mark Vaile as his replacement, saying Mr Vaile was the "best candidate" out of 36 from across the globe.
Mr Jeans' statement on behalf of the University of Newcastle Council about Mr Vaile's appointment drew ire from staff when it was posted on internal channels on Friday.
He said council members at the scheduled June 11 meeting discussed Mr Vaile's appointment and considered feedback from staff, students, community, industry and government stakeholders.
"As an institution of and for our regions, this understanding is critical," he said.
IN THE NEWS:
- Sixteen philanthropists publish open letter following the appointment of Mark Vaile as new University of Newcastle chancellor
- People aged between 50 and 59 will now get Pfizer over AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
- Inside a luxury lakefront listing
- 'Newcastle Education Campus' cash raises questions
- Photos from Newcastle Star Struck 2021 show Rise Up!
- Climate and human health a public health emergency: we need a plan
Mr Jeans said members discussed the selection process and governance, "noting that 36 candidates from across the country and internationally had been considered for the position", as well as Mr Vaile's career; understanding of the role; and alignment with UON's strategic direction and values.
He said they also discussed the importance of free speech and listening to all views; feedback about the appointment through social, media and personal channels; and a letter tabled from the University of Newcastle Students' Association.
"Mr Vaile AO was considered by the Selection Committee as the best candidate in a large field of applicants across all of the appointment criteria," Mr Jeans said.
"To avoid doubt, Mr Vaile has publicly reinforced his commitment to the Looking Ahead strategy and restated his support for achieving the university's carbon neutral goal by 2025. He has also emphasised the importance of stopping human-caused climate change by transitioning our energy economy."
Mr Jeans said there were 16 member positions on the council and each person had different backgrounds, skillsets and interests.
"We have long benefited from a diverse range of views," he said.
"We have robust debates, consider the views of our stakeholders, discuss ideas, and, as a group, work to find consensus to act in the best interests of our university.
"The council believes Mr Vaile will provide the leadership and advocacy our university needs to deliver against its strategy and respond to the challenges ahead."
The Newcastle Herald has seen staff comments written in response to the statement, including some lamenting the lack of transparency around the selection process and that the "diverse range of views" didn't reflect those held by staff and students, as well as concerns about whether Mr Vaile's role at Whitehaven aligns with UON's direction and values.
National Tertiary Education Newcastle branch acting president Terry Summers said Mr Vaile was not a good choice for chancellor.
"We don't think he really embodies what the university's values are," he said.
"We don't particularly think he is a person with higher education at his core, he's never been involved in education at all. His voting history from when he was in parliament doesn't tend to indicate that it's one of the things he holds dear."
He said Mr Vaile should have resigned from Whitehaven to take up the UON role.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: