9 December 2011

The University of Queensland’s (UQ) governing body, the Senate, today confirmed the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Greenfield AO, would cease his executive role at the University on 16 December 2011.

Speaking on behalf of the Senate, Chancellor John Story said it had become increasingly clear to Professor Greenfield and the Senate that the Vice-Chancellor could no longer fully discharge his duties in a way that either he would like or which the University could expect.

“For this reason, Professor Greenfield has decided, with the Senate’s consent, to bring forward his departure from the University,” he said.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Deborah Terry, will assume the role of Acting Vice-Chancellor from 17 December until the role is filled on a permanent basis. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Max Lu, will become Acting Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the same time.

The University has embarked on an international recruitment search for the position of Vice-Chancellor in recent weeks.

Mr Story said the resignation of the University’s two most senior executives was an extraordinary situation for any organisation, let alone one of the size and complexity of the University.

“At the time of their resignations, the Senate took the view that as there was no risk of the situation being repeated, the University’s interests would be best served by allowing a staggered departure,” he said.

“This would have enabled their replacements to be recruited and an orderly transition of key senior management positions to occur.

“The Senate recognises that this approach is no longer feasible,” Mr Story said.

He confirmed Professor Greenfield would cease all executive functions and responsibilities with the University on 16 December 2011 and would take planned leave until his official departure date of 13 January 2012.

Professor Greenfield will not receive a termination payment - only his legally entitled residual accrued leave based on his official departure date.

Mr Story said the University had faced extraordinary circumstances in recent weeks but had been steadfast in its commitment to the integrity of its academic system and the highest standards of corporate governance.

“Any suggestion the University failed to act appropriately is misguided,” he said.

“The Senate has acted decisively and promptly every step of the way and has not shirked from making some extremely tough decisions.”

Mr Story said as soon as concerns were raised about a student being improperly offered a place in one of the University’s programs, the Senate immediately initiated an independent investigation by the Honourable Tim Carmody SC.

“To ensure an appropriate level of external scrutiny into the matter, we also provided the report to the Crime and Misconduct Commission,” he said.

The University also took immediate steps to review relevant procedures to ensure the situation could not happen again, including a thorough and extensive review of student admissions. As a result of this review, changes to tighten relevant rules and processes were adopted at last night’s Senate’s meeting.

Mr Story said investigations into this matter confirmed that all other admissions into the particular course were handled correctly under the University rules and with proper consideration of applicants’ academic performance. The entry did not disadvantage or advantage any other eligible students.

He said at all times the University had tried to balance the public’s right to know with the serious issue of student privacy, which the University was legally obliged to protect.

Mr Story said the University’s decisive action meant future, current and past UQ students and their employers could be confident in the robustness and integrity of the University’s practices and its commitment to ensuring fair and just opportunities were provided to students and staff alike.

“We have demonstrated that we will not hesitate to act in protecting the integrity of our academic standards,” he said.

9 December 2011