30 August 2021

Renée Leon appointed Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor

| Karyn Starmer
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Renee Leon

Previously Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Renée Leon is to be the new Vice-Chancellor of Charles Sturt University. Photo: CSU.

Charles Sturt University has announced the appointment of Renée Leon as the University’s fifth Vice-Chancellor.

Chancellor Dr Michele Allan announced the appointment on Tuesday 24 August. Ms Leon will be the first woman appointed to the role.

Ms Leon has been the Secretary of two Commonwealth departments – the Department of Human Services and the Department of Employment – and has served as the CEO of the ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety.

Ms Leon stepped down from her role as Secretary of the Department of Human Services in early 2020 and said she is honoured to take up her role with Australia’s leading regional university at a time when the regions are playing an increasingly visible and important national role.

“Regional universities contribute hugely to regional development and sustainability and it is exciting to join Charles Sturt University at a time when regional Australia is growing and evolving,” she said.

“I took the opportunity to take a break in 2020 but I was always looking for a new role. The university sector satisfies my primary aim in all that I do, to make a difference for the public good,” Ms Leon said.

“Universities are in the middle of great disruption with the temporary loss of international students but they are also under pressure to change as the Federal Government seeks to ensure research is relevant and the production of job-ready graduates. But we also need to learn and to think and focus on general research – there is a balance to be found in all this.

“Regional universities also face their own particular challenges, They do not have the economies of scale of the larger city-based universities and they are often under pressure to offer a diverse set of courses for local students. But the regions have led the way in solving problems of agriculture and food production.”

The new Vice-Chancellor will be based at the university’s Bathurst campus and will assume her new role on Wednesday 1 September 2021.

Ms Leon said she sees similarities between Canberra and Bathurst, “the climate is certainly similar” and while smaller, she is looking forward to enjoying working in a vibrant regional city.

“I’m looking forward to working with an academic team who is committed to the development of the university to meet the challenges ahead.”

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Chancellor Dr Michele Allan said, the new Vice-Chancellor strongly believes in the benefits of higher education and in particular the critical role that Charles Sturt University plays in the regional communities that it serves.

“I’m delighted to announce the appointment of Renée as our new Vice-Chancellor. She has demonstrated her skills in effectively running large and complex organisations with multiple stakeholders and is the right person to lead Charles Sturt University into the next stage of our development,” Dr Allen said.

Ms Leon holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the Australian National University and a Master of Laws from the University of Cambridge, where she was selected as the Menzies Foundation Law Scholar in 1995.

Ms Leon was awarded a Public Service Medal in 2013 for outstanding service to public administration and law in leadership roles in the Australian Capital Territory and the Commonwealth.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra and a member of Chief Executive Women Australia.

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Interim Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov will return to his substantive role as Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and will remain a key member of the university leadership team.

“Professor Germov has played a critical role in leading the university through a challenging period,” Dr Allan said.

“I want to thank him for his leadership and I look forward to him continuing to play a key role in the advancement of the university.”

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