At Uni Newcastle Vaile exits before he arrives

Mark Vaile will not be the next chancellor of the University of Newcastle

Present chancellor, Paul Jeans announced Mr Vaile’s “intention now not to proceed” in a message to staff last night.

Mr Vaile withdrew after uproar across the university community with protests from students, staff and senior researchers.

“We respect Mr Vaile’s decision and recognise that he has made this decision in the best interests of the university,” Mr Jeans said.

It followed what appears a restrained statement of support by Mr Jeans on Friday, “Mr Vaile was considered by the selection committee as the best candidate in a large field of applicants across all of the appointment criteria.”

The opposition was largely based on Mr Vaile chairing a large coal miner, rather than his being a former National Party leader and deputy prime minister under John Howard. As Dan Conway, branch president of the National Tertiary Education Union put it, “(ANU chancellor) Julie Bishop who held similar roles in Liberal Governments is an appointment that I think most would be proud of.”

Mr Jeans told staff last night that council would meet today to consider “the process for the appointment of a new chancellor.” Mr Vaile was scheduled to become chancellor on July 1.

Given Mr Jeans close association with the appointment governance observers suggest he may not wish to delay his departure which would leave Deputy Chancellor Michelle McPherson in the chair.