University of Wollongong (UOW) Vice-Chancellor Prof. Paul Wellings will step down next year, ending a decade in the role.
UOW Chancellor Jillian Broadbent said Professor Wellings, who will stay on until 30 June 2021, has been an “exceptional leader”.
“The University has been transformed and its academic and research reputation strengthened,” Chancellor Broadbent said.
“His intellect, energy and drive has helped champion the work of the University of Wollongong, its role in supporting all our communities and our global positioning.
“The University of Wollongong has now begun a global search for its fifth Vice-Chancellor.”
On Prof. Welling’s watch, UOW invested almost $900 million into its expansion to Liverpool and other initiatives, including the Molecular Horizons, iAccelerate, the new arts and social sciences building and 800 new beds in student accommodation.
UOW National Tertiary Education Union president Georgine Clarsen said Prof. Wellings led UOW through a difficult time for Australian universities.
“The fees for students over Professor Wellings’ watch have increased, the size of classes have increased enormously, the rate of staff in insecure work has become unreliably large,” Mrs Clarsen said.
“More than 70 per cent of people who work here are in short term contracts or on casual work.
“We think, on significant measures, it’s got less of the institution that we think a university should be; a university that’s based on public funding and a university that should be dedicated to good research and the betterment of young students.”
Wollongong Undergraduate Students’ Association (WUSA) President Alec Hall said Professor Wellings would leave a “complicated” legacy.
“I think partially the success UOW has experienced in moving higher in university rankings can be attributed to his administration, but ultimately that’s not the purpose of a university,” Mr Hall said.
“The purpose of a university is to be a partnership between staff and students to better society, but I think at UOW we’ve seen corporate deals such as what’s led to the Ramsey Centre.”
Prof. Wellings came under fire last year for accepting an offer from the Ramsay Centre to run a controversial Western civilisation degree without consulting staff.
Professor Wellings was not available for comment.