FORMER Premier and ex-Member for Bendigo John Brumby has been given nine months to prepare for his new role as chancellor of La Trobe University.
The university made the announcement on Thursday, and Mr Brumby will start on March 29.
He said it “closes the loop” after he was involved in the establishment of La Trobe in Bendigo 25 years ago, when it replaced the old Bendigo College of Advanced Education.
Mr Brumby said it was pleasing to see the university had further established itself in the Bendigo community.
“My view was a very strong view as the federal member, that the best option for the people of Bendigo and the region was La Trobe University,” he said.
“I’ve seen La Trobe grow and develop since then, and every year that passes I think that decision to become La Trobe Bendigo has been vindicated time and time again.”
Since leaving politics following his defeat to Ted Baillieu in 2010, Mr Brumby has served as a director and chairman on a range of boards, and was a joint vice-chancellor of Monash and Melbourne universities.
He will relinquish some of his current board positions before joining La Trobe University.
Mr Brumby said the university came from a tradition of providing access to higher education to those who might have previously been overlooked – including people in regional and rural areas – and it was a tradition he was hoping to continue.
“When you look at the data in terms of participation rates and opportunity for country students versus city students, it still remains the fact that participation rates of students in country areas are well below those of metropolitan Melbourne,” he said.
“If you go further north, places like Mildura, the participation rate is just 8% compared with 44% in Melbourne.
“The only way you can address that is through the provision of more places and more opportunities for students in regional areas.”
Mr Brumby started his career in education in Eaglehawk in the 1980s before becoming entering politics.
La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said Mr Brumby brought a vast depth of experience, wisdom and insight to La Trobe.
“His strong business acumen, connections to decision and policy makers at all levels of government and community, plus his passion for excellence will be hugely beneficial to all our students,’’ he said.
“Mr Brumby is also deeply committed to the economic, social and intellectual development of regional and rural Victoria, which aligns with La Trobe’s strong regional presence and our mission to ensure all Victorians can access the life-changing benefits of university education. He started his working career in Bendigo as a secondary school teacher and has continued to have a strong connection to that community ever since.
“I am confident John Brumby will make an outstanding contribution to the growth and governance of Victoria’s third-oldest University.”
Mr Brumby was the Premier of Victoria between 2007 and 2010. He served more than 10 years as Treasurer and then Premier of Victoria, six years as Leader of the Victorian Opposition and seven years as Federal MHR for Bendigo during the period of the Hawke Government.
In the last seven years Mr Brumby has taken on a range of roles in the business, not for profit and university sectors. He is chair of a number of business organisations including Citywide Solutions Pty Ltd, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust, BioCurate, and the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) Superannuation Fund. He is also an Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne.
In the not for profit sector Mr Brumby is Chair of the Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute and the Fred Hollows Foundation. He is also the National President of the Australia China Business Council.
Mr Brumby was awarded an Order of Australia in 2017 for distinguished service to the Parliament of Victoria, to economic management and medical biotechnology innovation, to improved rural and regional infrastructure, and to the community.
Outgoing chancellor Professor Larkins, who was appointed in 2017, said it was an honour to be the Chancellor of La Trobe University and that he was delighted to be succeeded by someone as distinguished and accomplished as Mr Brumby.
Professor Larkins was the seventh chancellor at La Trobe University, and was installed in a ceremony presided over by Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau at Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre.