RMIT chancellor chooses casino over college

Switkowski announced exit, before the criticism commenced

Ziggy Switkowski is stepping down as chancellor of RMIT, “to focus upon his recently announced new board responsibilities.”  Dr Switkowski is the in-coming chair of casino company Crown Resorts and will leave RMIT by end October. His new appointment was announced late last month.

RMIT states Dr Switkowski informed the university council of his decision to depart on September 1, ahead of demands for him to resign.

The following day an open letter called on Dr Switkowski to leave the university because an association with the gambling giant would not align with the RMIT commitment, “to be agents of positive change for our students, the community and beyond” (CMM September 3).

RMIT policy forbids researchers accepting funding from the tobacco industry and has all its investments in managed funds that exclude fossil fuels. However there is no formal university bar on the gambling industry (CMM August 30).

Dr Swikowski’s announcement occurs within months of former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Mark Vail not acting on Uni Newcastle council’s invitation that he become its chancellor. Mr Vail chairing a coal miner excited vocal opposition among university staff and supporters (CMM June 22).

RMIT has now lost both its senior leaders this year. Former vice chancellor Martin Bean stood down in June, “to put my health as my priority,” (CMM March 2). His replacement, Alec Cameron starts “early” in 2022.

Deputy chancellor Janet Latchford will act until a new chancellor is named, a process RMIT states is “well underway.”