Group of Eight director to lead NZ’s largest university

New Zealand’s largest university, the University of Auckland, has appointed its first female vice-chancellor. The university has announced that English woman Dawn Freshwater, currently the chair and director of Australia’s Group of Eight universities and vice-chancellor of the University of Western Australia, will become its vice-chancellor from March 2020.

Freshwater will replace Stuart McCutcheon at the University of Auckland.

The university’s chancellor, Scott St John, said Freshwater received unanimous support from council members and from staff engaged in the selection process.

“As well as academic and professional leadership capability, it was important that the new vice-chancellor had a number of other attributes that we identified as important to the wider university community,” he said.

“It was clear that a values-based leadership style and commitment to Māori and Pacific development, and an understanding of the civic, regional and global relevance of the University of Auckland were critical factors in the selection. I believe we have very much met this brief with the appointment of Professor Freshwater.”

Professor Freshwater is a professor in mental health, board director of Perth USAsia Centre, vice-chair of the Partnership Board of the Worldwide Universities Network, member of the National Health and Medical Research Council's Women in Health Science Committee, and a board director of Lifeline WA.

Before moving to Perth, Australia, she was a pro vice-chancellor at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s largest university with 33,800 full-time equivalent students and a turnover of more than NZ$1 billion a year (US$649 million). It is the highest-ranked New Zealand institution in global league tables.