New appointments, from outer space to the Pacific

A round-up of some recent appointments to senior positions in the public sector: A coup for the ANU; new ACARA board; experienced diplomat on island time; the nation’s wine supply secured; turnover in transport safety governance; and solid legal advice for Victorian agencies.

Famous astrophysicist Brian Schmidt has been announced as the Australian National University’s new vice-chancellor, effective January 1, 2016.

He told the ANU’s media team he believed the university would provide students “an education equal to that of Oxford, Cambridge and the great Ivy League schools in the United States” within a few years.

Vicki Thomson, the chief executive of the Group of Eight universities, said it was “a great coup” for the ANU’s governing council to get Schmidt to take the job.

Since winning the 2011 Nobel prize shot him to fame, Schmidt has been happy to play the role as an unofficial ambassador for science to the nation’s media and politicians. Speaking at the Science Meets Policymakers forum held at the ANU earlier in the year, Schmidt offered some advice for other scientists hoping to have an influence on public policy: do not try to be both a political activist and a subject matter expert at the same time.

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