Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell AO will become the first woman vice-chancellor and president of the Australian National University (ANU).
From 1 January next year, the cultural anthropologist by trade will succeed Professor Brian Schmidt AC, who has served as the university’s vice-chancellor and president since 2016.
Distinguished Professor Bell led the design and establishment of the ANU School of Cybernetics and is the inaugural director of the university’s first innovation institute, the Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute (3Ai).
She is also the inaugural appointee to the ANU’s Florence Violet McKenzie Chair and a member of the Prime Minister’s National Science and Technology Council.
Distinguished Professor Bell said she was honoured to be appointed by the University Council as ANU’s 13th vice-chancellor.
“As Australia’s national university, ANU is a truly unique institution,” she said.
“I’m excited to work alongside talented, committed colleagues, in all parts of the university, to build on our legacy and advance our important national and international mission.”
Since Professor Schmidt announced his resignation from the vice-chancellorship in February, ANU chancellor the Hon Julie Bishop has managed a selection and consultation process which led to Distinguished Professor Bell’s appointment.
“It was clear to our selection panel that Genevieve aligns with the university community’s values and vision for ANU,” Ms Bishop said.
“I’m excited that she will be the first woman to hold this position in our history.”
Chancellor Bishop said Distinguished Professor Bell was a compelling and passionate leader with a deep understanding of the ANU.
“With an extensive and distinguished track record, Genevieve offers great leadership and strategic capabilities, which will be critical as the university addresses its distinctive opportunities and responsibilities as Australia’s national university,” she said.
Prior to joining the ANU in 2017, Distinguished Professor Bell spent 18 years in Silicon Valley helping guide Intel’s product development and social science and design research capabilities.
She remains a vice president and senior fellow at Intel and has been serving as a non-executive director of the Commonwealth Bank since 2019 – a role she will relinquish from 31 October.
She is also a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and the Australian Academy of the Humanities and an SRI International Engelbart distinguished fellow.
Chancellor Bishop also acknowledged the work of outgoing vice-chancellor Schmidt, who will return to an academic role as a distinguished professor in the ANU College of Science, teaching and research in astronomy, at the ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory.
“Since 2016, Brian has served as ANU vice-chancellor with distinction, developing an ambitious strategic plan,” she said.
“Across the university, his leadership has strengthened collegiality, championed interdisciplinary practice and reinforced shared values and behaviours.”
Outgoing vice-chancellor Schmidt also welcomed Distinguished Professor Bell’s appointment.
“It is with great pleasure that I am able to hand over the leadership of ANU to Genevieve Bell,” he said.
“She is someone who is both a leading intellectual and deeply committed to the values of the university and I know she will do a superb job as vice-chancellor.”
The university will celebrate Distinguished Professor Bell’s appointment as vice-chancellor once Professor Schmidt vacates the role and she begins her term in the new year.