Home | News | David Thodey to replace Belinda Hutchinson as Uni of Sydney chancellor
David Thodey will be the next chancellor of the University of Sydney. Picture: NCA Newswire/Sean Davey

David Thodey to replace Belinda Hutchinson as Uni of Sydney chancellor

Former Telstra chief executive and CSIRO chairman David ­Thodey will take over as chancellor of Australia’s wealthiest ­higher education institution, the University of Sydney, when Belinda Hutchinson steps down in July after her more than a decade in the role.

As chancellor, Mr Thodey will chair the university’s senate, its highest governing body, a position similar to the chairman of a corporation. He said he looked forward to continuing Ms Hutchinson’s work “in striving to ensure the university is known for creating a world-class teaching and learning environment and a wonderful student experience”.

Mr Thodey comes into the top position at a time when the University of Sydney has emerged ­financially strong from the ­pandemic, after managing to retain its lucrative cohort of Chinese students who studied in their homeland during the period of border ­closures.

The university is by a clear margin the most financially strong Australian university, ­reporting a $1bn surplus in 2021, followed by a $300m surplus in 2022.

University of Sydney vice-chancellor Mark Scott, whose position is effectively CEO of the university, said Mr Thodey was a renowned leader across a broad range of national life. “His career has changed the lives of millions of Australians through telecommunications and digital technologies,” Professor Scott said.

He said Mr Thodey brought to the university “an extraordinary background that demonstrates a commitment to community, innovation and public service – as well as, of course, his extensive leadership and board experience across research, technology and telecommunications”.

Mr Thodey was Telstra CEO from 2009 to 2015 and then chaired the CSIRO board from 2015 to 2021. He chaired the 2019 Australian Public Sector Review and is chair of Ramsay Health Care and accounting technology company Xero.

He signalled he would be focusing on the university’s ability to create valuable applications from fundamental research. “Research translation for real-world impact is what great universities do, and that will continue to be a priority at the university,” he said.

Mr Thodey also said he would pay close attention to people and the composition of the university.

“We know our community thrives through inclusion and diversity and this will also continue to be our focus as we commit to ensuring the success of a greater diversity of students and staff at Sydney,” he said.

Professor Scott thanked Ms Hutchinson for the key leadership role she had played as ­chancellor since 2013, a position that she had performed without remuneration.

“It goes well beyond our campuses, helping us to reach government, donors, business and the broader community,” he said.

Outgoing University of Sydney chancellor Belinda Hutchinson. Picture: NCA Newswire/Jane Dempster

“The improvement she has made to the governance of our university cannot be understated. Her vision, hard work and clear focus have been key to our success, making us financially strong, improving risk management and setting us up to become one of Australia’s most successful ­universities.”

Ms Hutchinson said the university campus was now a very different place to when she commenced as chancellor 11 years ago.

“While we have more to achieve, we have made significant strides,” she said.

“Today, women make up over half of our student community. And by focusing on a series of targeted mentoring, sponsorship and network programs, women now represent more than half of our senior executive leaders.”

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