John Dewar steps up at Universities Australia

La Trobe U’s VC is elected chair of the peak body – maybe he ran on a glutton for punishment platform

Professor Dewar steps up from deputy, so he knows what he is getting into. While predecessor Deborah Terry did well to make UA a much smaller target for conservative critics, universities are still not the government’s first favourites. Which will not bother Professor Dewar who carefully says what he thinks, vigorously criticising the government for excluding universities from JobKeeper last year but not framing it in party political terms. (CMM April 27).

Nor does annoying other VCs appear to upset him. Professor Dewar was one of four university chiefs who did a cuts-to-save-jobs deal last year with the National Tertiary Education Union, which was vocally rejected by some of his colleagues.

But Professor Dewar is also highly regarded for his tenacity – running La Trobe U requires it and his policy perspicacity – ministers listen to him.

This, maybe why he is elected at UA, which now has a president who understands that all politics is vocal, except when it isn’t.