Schmidt seeks to reinvigorate School of Music, announces consultation

Charlotte 7 February 2016
Brian Schmidt

One month after succeeding Professor Ian Young as Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Brian Schmidt AC has announced a comprehensive community consultation on the ANU School of Music with the aim of reinvigorating it by 2017.

Professor Schmidt said the consultations would involve discussions with a wide range of interested parties and would be led by former Public Service Commissioner Professor Andrew Podger AO, who will be assisted by eminent music and arts scholars including Interim head of the School of Music Associate Professor Royston Gustavson, Emeritus Professor Larry Sitsky AM, Emeritus Professor John Painter AM and Ms Robin Hughes AO.

The consultations will aim to shape the School of Music’s long-term future and its role in the wider community, as well as academic quality, its governance and financial sustainability.

“As Vice-Chancellor, I have a strong commitment to the ANU School of Music and believe music education plays an essential role in an internationally-renowned university such as ANU,” Professor Schmidt said.

“In fact, I made my first visit to Canberra and ANU as a young musician, as part of a tour of Australia by the Alaska Youth Orchestra.

“I am committed to making sure the ANU School of Music works well, and that music remains an important part of the culture and community life of ANU.”


He said decisions about the future of the School of Music would be made against three clear principles. The school should have international excellence, it should be as relevant as possible to the community, and it must be affordable.

The consultations will be in two stages. The first round of consultations will conclude by late April, with a discussion paper to be released in May. Professor Podger will then hold further consultations before submitting his final recommendations.

Professor Schmidt said Professor Podger would report back to the University by August this year.

“I look forward to Professor Podger’s consultations and final recommendations,” Professor Schmidt said.

“It is my strong ambition to have a reinvigorated School of Music at ANU by 2017.”

Student and staff levels and the morale of those who remain at the School of Music have plummeted in recent years following then ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young’s unpopular decision in 2012 to slash staff and budgets.

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