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UoN officially rolls out welcome mat to Chancellor Patricia Forsythe

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A huge crowd was on hand to officially welcome the Honourable Patricia Forsythe AM to the University of Newcastle (UoN) fold this week.

The born and bred Novocastrian, and former Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand, became the institution’s eighth Chancellor, following in the footsteps of Sir Alister McMullin KCMG (1966-1977), Sir Bede Callaghan CBE (1977-1987), Hon Justice Elizabeth Evatt AO AC (1988-1994), Ric Charlton AM (1994-2004), Professor Trevor Waring AM (2004-2012), Dr Ken Moss AM (2012-2013) and Paul Jeans (2013-2023).

About 500 students, staff and community members gathered in the Great Hall on Friday 22 March, as NSW Governor Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC presided over the investiture ceremony.

The traditional service also marks the start of the next era for the UoN.

The University of Newcastle’s eighth Chancellor, the Honourable Patricia Forsythe AM. Photo: UoN

The Chancellor, who is an alumna of the university, hopes to continue its strong legacy as a national leader in equity for education.

“Having started my career as a teacher, I believe education has the power to transform lives,” she said.

“I am particularly proud to be leading a university that has such a strong commitment to improving access to education.

“Within the next decade, 90% of new jobs will require post-school qualifications, with 50% requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher.

“So, we must ensure everyone has access to education.

“About half of our undergraduate students are the first in their family to go to university, many are from rural and remote communities.

“We are widely recognised as a leader in Indigenous education and equity through improving participation of pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds.”

Chancellor Forsythe also acknowledged the economic and human value of the UoN in the region.

“Since our small beginning as a university when I was a student in the 1970s, we have expanded significantly to have more than 36,000 students and a footprint that spans from Callaghan and our City campuses to the Central Coast, Sydney and Singapore,” she said.

“The position of Chancellor is an honour… and my commitment is to ensure the university is a leader for the community.

“A place that makes a difference both for individuals as well as the nation and the globe.

“It is a particularly important time for the Central Coast, too.

“The Gosford campus is the university’s biggest financial investment since we built NUspace in Newcastle in 2017.

“This new site will give people on the coast more options for studying at uni, without having to move away.”

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky AO address the big audience at the investiture ceremony. Photo: UoN

Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky AO explained the role of Chancellor was important not just for the UoN, but for our entire Hunter.

“As a university, we are wholly integrated with our community,” he said.

“Our students work and live in the region, as do our staff.

“So, we’re particularly proud of the research and the partnerships we have that directly benefit local industries and our community.

“Our Chancellor holds an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the regions and the communities our university is anchored in and serves.”

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