Western Sydney University announces new Vice-Chancellor

Professor George Williams.
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One of the nation’s most esteemed and respected university leaders, Australian constitutional law expert Professor George Williams AO, has been named the next Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University.

Williams was appointed by the University’s Board of Trustees as successor to Professor Barney Glover AO, who completed his term in April after more than a decade of exemplary service.

Williams becomes the fifth Vice-Chancellor in the University’s history and will commence his term in mid-July.

“When the opportunity arose to lead this University, I gave it everything I had because I believe there is no university or region in Australia with greater potential,” Williams said.

“Western Sydney University and this region are essential to the nation’s economic and social growth.

“I am honoured to be appointed by the Board of Trustees as Western Sydney University’s next Vice-Chancellor. I am proud to join a world-leading institution that is delivering real-world impact when it comes to teaching, research and innovation, and is a formidable force for positive social, environmental and economic change – both locally and globally.

“I am inspired by the University’s longstanding commitment to widening higher education participation and its unique position among the higher education sector as an institution firmly anchored to the Western Sydney region’s own remarkable growth and development.”

Western Sydney University Chancellor, Professor Jennifer Westacott AO, said Williams is an exceptional candidate, and impressed the Board of Trustees with his clear commitment to the University, his deep passion for the western Sydney region and its potential, and his ambition to take the University to the next level.

“Professor Williams deeply understood the role our University will play in both leading and supporting the transformation of Western Sydney and ensuring it benefits the community, particularly through the impact of the airport and the huge growth and opportunity currently underway,’’ Westacott said.

Western Sydney University’s Kingswood campus. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor Transformation, Planning and Assurance, Anthony Mason Professor and Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Williams has forged a highly distinguished career in law, academia and Australian public life over many decades.

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UNSW, he has led significant, university-wide change to achieve high performance. His extensive higher education experience also includes serving as Dean of UNSW Law where his leadership put one of the nation’s largest Law Schools at the forefront of digital learning and employability.

One of Australia’s most recognised and respected experts in human rights and constitutional law, Williams has appeared as a barrister in the Australian High Court on many cases over the past two decades including on freedom of speech, Indigenous rights and the rule of law.

Professor George Williams.

“Western Sydney University’s mission has a special resonance for me. I know first-hand the transformative power of education – I myself come from a modest family background that had little experience of higher education. Inspiring teachers put me on a path that changed my life. I am deeply grateful for this and want everyone to have the same opportunity,” Williams said.

“I look forward to working with the Chancellor, Board and the incredible staff and student community to further strengthen the University’s role as a catalyst for Western Sydney’s advancement and prosperity – ensuring it is producing the highly-skilled graduates, impactful research and ground-breaking innovation to drive productivity and growth for the region.”

Professor Westacott warmly welcomed Professor Williams’ appointment, which coincides with the University’s 35th anniversary this year.

“Professor George Williams is an exemplary choice for our next Vice-Chancellor. He is incredibly well placed to lead the University through this next important phase of our growth and development and to respond to the opportunities presented by an evolving higher education sector, a transforming national economy, and a rapidly changing world,” she said.

“His wealth of knowledge, scholarly expertise and extensive university leadership experience will help spearhead our ambitious digital and curriculum transformation as well as champion our research and transnational education programs.

“Professor Williams is passionate about providing opportunities for students and the quality of their education, having taught constitutional law for many years. He is also an author of the leading student text in his field.

“He will inspire the University to even greater heights of achievement. Most critically, he shares our institutional values and understands our unique identity. Our commitment to equity and inclusion will only deepen under his leadership.

“I know he will continue Professor Glover’s legacy and confidently take us into the next decade and firmly cement Western Sydney University’s place among the very best universities in Australia and the world.”

The University conducted an extensive international and national search for a new Vice-Chancellor, and Williams was the standout candidate.

“We also consulted with staff and students across our campuses. They told us they wanted an inspiring and visionary leader but also someone with humility,’’ Westacott said.

“They wanted a leader with a deep commitment to the Western Sydney region, our University, academic excellence, and an unwavering commitment to equity, inclusion and social justice.

“Professor Williams exceeded the Board and selection committee’s expectations on each and every one of these criteria. He is a stellar appointment.”

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