Mark Scott, the former ABC Managing Director and current NSW Education Department Secretary, has been appointed as the new Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney for a five-year term beginning on 19 July 2021.
Scott is an alumnus of the university, holding a Diploma of Education, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts (Political Science and Government). He also holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. Scott has previously worked on the staff of a number of NSW Liberal Party ministers.
University Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC said that Scott is a “highly effective, respected and successful senior leader of large and complex public facing, public sector institutions.”
A University spokesperson said “At a time when our sector is facing significant challenges, Mark is uniquely placed to lead us in responding to those challenges by developing and implementing transformational strategies and building coalitions of support.”
Scott’s lack of academic experience — he does not hold a doctorate, and has never been employed as an academic — marks a notable departure from the usual characteristics of a Vice-Chancellor. Every other Group of Eight VC holds a doctorate, and previous VC Michael Spence was a world leading Intellectual Property academic before his appointment.
Kurt Iveson, University of Sydney NTEU Branch President, told Honi that “Scott has never worked in a university, so staff will rightly ask about the particular skillset that the appointment committee were looking for and have found in him. It’s hard not to think that he is being brought in to lead yet more restructures that will further corporatise the university, reflecting the way that both our Senate and Senior Executive Management treat the university as a ‘business’. The NTEU is strongly opposed to the introduction of corporatist agendas in universities, which undercut their role and functioning as institutions that serve the public good.”
Hutchinson stated that, “He’s not going to be a researcher … we have to take the community with us on what we do and why what we do is important … he’s got that ability to engage people and to engage creative professionals.”
Further, Scott added, “Part of my track record is the ability to lead large public-facing organisations through change, and to be stronger and more robust on the other side … I’ve worked extensively and led for 15 years organisations full of intelligence knowledge workers, highly creative and engaged in their craft. My task is to support those practitioners to be as outstanding as they possibly can be.”
The new Vice-Chancellor’s pay packet will be significantly reduced from that enjoyed by Michael Spence. Scott will earn a maximum of $1.15 million including bonuses, as compared to the $1.6 million previously allocated to the Vice-Chancellor.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Scott’s appointment half an hour before a University-wide press release was issued.