ANU's Power List 2014

You mightn’t have met them, you may not even know who they are, but all of these people have a significant influence over your ANU student experience. Here are our picks for the most powerful people at the ANU in 2014.

1. Professor Ian Young, Vice-Chancellor
Unsurprisingly, the ‘CEO’ of the ANU comes in at number one – basically everyone bows down to him. He reports to the University Council (made up of elected staff and students, and government appointees) but is largely left to run the University on his terms. Young is known for being consultative but is not seen as heavily engaged with staff and students. People often comment that he appears shy but those who know him put that down to a dislike of small talk. A rather nerdy engineer (recognised as one of Australia’s top oceanographers), Young is a workaholic who still does research on weekends. His office light has been seen to turn on at 7am most days and one source said it is not unusual to get a reply to an email at 5am. Young surrounds himself with competent staff and gives them autonomy to do their jobs while at the same time being clear that any proposals must be solutions based and decisions backed up by evidence, or they will be scrapped. No exceptions.

2. Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
A major powerhouse behind the VC (one somewhat disgruntled employee described her as a “bulldozer”); Hughes-Warrington has made a name for herself at the ANU as someone on a mission to get things done. A Rhodes Scholar and still an active academic (she recently wrote another book, and uses her Twitter account to review philosophy texts), she is ambitious and regarded as someone who will be a VC in Australia within the next couple of years.

3. Graham Tuckwell, ANU Alumnus
Money buys influence and lots of money buys lots of influence. Having gifted the ANU $50 million last year to fund a large number of generous scholarships, Tuckwell has considerable sway. When he calls, the phone is always answered at every level. When Tuckwell says “jump”, the university asks “how high?” and thanks him for the helpful advice.

4. Professor Brian Schmidt, Nobel Prize winner
Two years ago Schmidt would have been at the top of this list because winning the Nobel Prize (in Physics) made him, overnight, the ANU’s most valuable staff member. He still exercises considerable sway and has a direct line to the VC and other key decision makers. He gave a public speech last year on ANU’s future – an extraordinary move for a tenured academic – where he made it clear that the ANU needed to make some big changes if it wants to continue to be a great world university.

5. Professor Margaret Harding, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Harding is seen as a safe pair of hands in her role. Some people don’t know how to take her as she has quite a dry sense of humour, and she is said not to suffer fools lightly. We don’t envisage her moving on to become a VC although we’re sure her expertise in Ligand-DNA interactions as well as Antifreeze Proteins and Glycoproteins would equip her well should she ever apply for such a role.

6. Professor Gareth Evans, Chancellor
It may surprise some that the Chancellor is to be found at number six, but in reality the role of the Chancellor does not have a huge amount of power on the ground. To be fair to Evans, the ANU is only one of a number of national and international portfolios he has and despite his busy workload internationally he has been seen as a very active Chancellor (some say too active). The departure of former Vice-Chancellor, Ian Chubb, has been linked to the rise of Evans, and he signed off on his replacement, the current VC.

7. Professor Kiaran Kirk, Director of the Research School of Biology
Kirk is popular with both staff and students (having last year been voted the best lecturer). He has recently been appointed Dean of one of the seven ANU academic colleges (he takes up the role in April) and is an award winning teacher and academic. He served on the University Council as a staff rep during the time of the appointment of the current VC and has been seen as a confidante to Young ever since (one of very few on the ANU staff).

8. Professor Toni Makkai, Dean of the College of Arts & Social Sciences
Makkai is the longest serving dean at ANU who has been through some pretty big battles in the past few years (the School of Music and CASS tutorial cuts being the most notable). She is also married to one of ANU’s few ‘Distinguished Professors’ Ian McAllister. It was hard to choose which (if any) of the deans would make the list but Makkai is here partly because of her length of service and to represent the fact that deans exercise considerable influence over their academic colleges and are each power brokers in their own way.

9. Chris Grange, Executive Director of Administration and Planning
Grange is the ANU’s money man. His portfolio is broader than that, but his focus is having the University in a good financial position. Last year, new in the job, Grange led the consultation sessions across the University on proposed budget cuts and feedback about him is positive. One source felt that he should be ranked higher than number nine, but he has not gained the level of influence his predecessor had under the former Vice-Chancellor (Dr Brok Glen was seen as Professor Ian Chubb’s number two). We feel that as long as Hughes-Warrington is here, no one else will be number two.

10. Dr Liz Eedle, Executive Officer to the Vice-Chancellor
Eedle is the Vice-Chancellor’s right hand woman. A bright and unassuming person whose job it is to give the VC advice on pretty much everything. She attends all the important meetings and is a sounding board for the VC and senior staff. Most people don’t know what Eedle looks like but when it’s something that matters, she is usually around. She and the VC’s loyal EA, Tegan Donald, would know him better than anyone and are often called on to get a feel for what he is thinking.

11. Professor Richard Baker, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience)
Baker is one of four PVCs at the University, all of whom are members of the University Executive. In many ways, the PVCs are the foot-soldiers for the VC and his deputies, but they are also influential in their own ways. Baker is an ANU stalwart having studied and taught here for over 20 years. He is widely connected across the student body and seen as the approachable face of the Chancelry.

12. Jane O’Dwyer, Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs
O’Dwyer manages the ANU’s reputation in the media. It is often her words being printed in newspapers across Australia (although they are usually spoken by someone else for whom she has written the script). She is a key lobbyist on the ANU’s behalf at the state and national level and her connections across the political spectrum are impressive. Her portfolio gives her the authority to operate across the entire ANU but it is her personal style and broad experience that brings clout and influence to her office.

13. Dr Laura-Anne Bull, Registrar Student Life
Bull came to ANU as a Deputy Registrar, then was promoted to Registrar (Student Services) and recently has taken on an even more expanded role. She is now the Registrar (Student Life) in charge of ANU Counselling, ANU Health Service, the Disability Service, Academic Skills & Learning Centre, the Equity Office, the Careers Centre and all the ANU Halls of Residence. She reports to Baker who reports to Hughes-Warrington (probably the three people who have the most direct impact on the ANU student experience).

14. Dr Erik Lithander, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International & Outreach)
Lithander spends a lot of time abroad promoting the ANU brand and he is in charge of ANU’s marketing strategy and developing international alliances. While very much behind the scenes at the ANU, Lithander is a key face on the international stage. He is relatively young and married to a talented medical academic, Dr Fiona Lithander, also at ANU. Both are considered people to watch.

15. Associate Professor Paula Newitt, Dean of Students
Newitt has recently been employed in the role, having acted many times over the past few years. She is also an Associate Dean of Science and has a close link to the students in the PhB program there. Newitt is not seen as a big hitter around the ANU but is respected for being a calm and thorough worker who is approachable to staff and students. She is ideal in this role as a mediator and problem solver.

16. Cameron Wilson & Arjuna Mohottala, ANUSA & PARSA Presidents
The two student presidents also serve on the University Council and both represent organizations that receive generous Student Services & Amenities Fee funding (ANUSA gets just over $1 million and PARSA around $800,000). The presidents enjoy easy access and regular meetings with the DVCs and Richard Baker. If they work together (which is not a guarantee), these two have the ability to influence quite significant decisions in the ANU.

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