Alex Zelinsky will become VC of the University of Newcastle in November, replacing Caroline McMillen. Dr Zelinsky is now chief defence scientist. His academic background is in computer science and engineering. Prior to Defence Science and Technology he was at CSIRO for eight years. Dr Zelinsky’s last university appointments were at ANU, where he was a professor of systems engineering.
Dr Zelinsky is well-placed to lead a regional university, doing his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at the University of Wollongong, also serving on its council. And he has a strong applied-research background which will suit Newcastle. At DST he led the $700m Next Generations Technologies Fund and oversaw R&D links with 33 universities.
Observers say his first two tasks at UniNewcastle are likely to be financial. The university has an ambitious inner-city expansion plan to pay for and the NSW Audit Office says while its reserves cover debt, last year current liabilities exceeded assets. There is also the present round of enterprise bargaining which is not yet at pay-scale stage (CMM June 12). Some suggest that the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union will now try to pick the pace up to get a deal before Dr Zelinsky arrives but others argue VC Caroline McMillen will not want to lock her imminent successor into anything.