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Experienced executive and director elected Curtin University Chancellor

Wednesday 21 February 2024 | By Samuel Jeremic
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Curtin University has announced highly accomplished executive Dr Vanessa Guthrie AO as its new Chancellor, starting April 1, 2024.

Currently Curtin’s Pro Chancellor, Dr Guthrie has been a member of the University Council since 2017 and has experience across a portfolio of board positions.

She is a Non-Executive Director of Santos Limited, Tronox Holdings PLC, Lynas Rare Earths Limited and Orica; Non-Executive Director of Cricket Australia and Infrastructure Australia; and Chair of FITE Brain Cancer.

Her qualifications span geology, environment, law and business management — including a Doctor of Philosophy in Geology and an Honorary Doctor of Science from Curtin University — and she has substantial experience in diverse mining industry roles including operations, environment, community, indigenous affairs, corporate development and sustainability. 

Dr Guthrie said it was a rare privilege to have the opportunity to make a difference.

“Curtin is a university where our ambition to “make tomorrow better” comes to life,” she said.

“Our strategy, built around People, Planet and Partnerships, is one which has the student experience, our rich research performance and our commitment to being a part of the community at its heart.

“As John Curtin said, ‘Above all else, the university must have a soul’; this is reflected in our strong focus on equity and improving people’s lives through education, no matter their background.”

Mr Rob Cole, who has served on the Curtin Council since 2022, will be the new Pro Chancellor when Dr Guthrie steps up as Chancellor.

Mr Cole has over 35 years’ experience in energy, resources, infrastructure, and the legal profession.

He is a former Woodside Executive Director, Beach Energy Managing Director and partner-in-charge of Mallesons in Perth.

He is currently Chair of two ASX-listed companies — Iluka Resources Ltd and Perenti Ltd — and Chair of privately owned Perth Airport.

He is also a former Chair of three Government Trading Entities – Synergy, Southern Ports and Landgate.

Dr Guthrie will succeed the outgoing Chancellor, Dr Andrew Crane, who has been on Council since 2015 and held the position of Chancellor since 2019.

Curtin Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne thanked Dr Crane for his service and congratulated Dr Guthrie on her appointment.

“Dr Crane has shown remarkable leadership during his time on the University Council, having served the maximum three successive terms of three years,” Professor Hayne said.

“He guided the University through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and celebrated successes such as the development of the Exchange Precinct, securing the Curtin-led Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Trailblazer, leading development of Curtin’s 2030 Strategic Plan and so much more.

“I extend my heartfelt thanks to Dr Crane for his outstanding service to Curtin and wish him the best in his future endeavours.”

Professor Hayne said Dr Guthrie’s broad skillset and University Council experience made her an ideal fit for the role.

“Dr Guthrie has excelled as Curtin’s Pro Chancellor and we have no doubt she will have a significant and positive impact on the University and its community when she steps into the role of Chancellor,” she said.

Dr Guthrie’s term as Chancellor will run until March 31, 2026.