Brian Shmidt announced his intention to resign as Vice Chancellor of the ANU on Thursday morning as part of his State of the University address to ANU staff. His time in the position will conclude at the end of 2023 after eight years in the role.
After “three years where the only constant has been disruption” Schmidt based his decision on his desire to avoid becoming “the status quo” and returning to “a somewhat more balanced life”. He will continue at the ANU as a professor of astronomy after December.
Remarking on “how much younger [he] looked” when he started the job in 2015, Schmidt now leaves behind a very different ANU. He oversaw the development of Kambri and expansion of the residential halls, including the new Yukeembruk which is set to open this month.
His time as VC also saw ongoing student movements and protests, particularly regarding racism, ANU’s environmental impact, women’s issues and student safety generally. Schmidt’s tenure has also seen ANU rank as one of the worst universities in Australia for sexual assault and harassment, an issue that continues to impact students.
Impacts for students at ANU may include the seismic renaming of ANU Schmidtposting (to be confirmed),the absence of Schmidt’s iconic Tesla, or the gradual disappearance of his Nobel-winning face from protest posters on the historic walls of Copland courtyard. Student media and activists may also have to put exponentially more effort into Vice-Chancellor related puns moving forward.
His successor will be appointed by the ANU council in line with section thirty-four of the Australian National University Act. ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop stated that the University will begin a global search to find suitable candidates. Schmidt expressed excitement at seeing them continue his work and urged them to “have confidence in doing the right thing,” while working with students to do so.
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