Ms Alison Watkins AM

Chancellor of the University of Tasmania

Alison grew up on a farm in regional Tasmania. She attended Sorell Primary School and St Michael’s Collegiate in Hobart and studied at the University of Tasmania.

She is an experienced CEO and member of executive boards. She is a member of the Reserve Bank of Australia Board, a director of CSL Limited and a non-executive director of Wesfarmers Limited. She is also a director of the Business Council of Australia and the Centre for Independent Studies.

Alison’s previous roles include Group Managing Director of Coca-Cola Amatil, Chief Executive Officer of GrainCorp Limited and Berri Limited, and Managing Director of Regional Banking at ANZ. Alison spent 10 years at McKinsey & Company from 1989-1999 and became a partner of the firm in 1996 before moving to ANZ as Group General Manager Strategy. Alison has been a non-executive director of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Woolworths Limited and Just Group Limited.

Role of the Chancellor

In Australian higher education, a Chancellor is the formal head of a university, working closely with the Vice-Chancellor and President. Their relationship may be seen broadly as that between a Chair and a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Chancellor chairs the university’s governing body and is expected to champion exemplary standards of ethical governance and integrity.

The Council has collective responsibility for providing oversight of a university’s strategic planning and its educational, financial, commercial and legal accountabilities. It is responsible for the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor and monitors their performance.

The first role of the Chancellor is very much a Chair of Board role to work with the Vice-Chancellor as CEO to ensure that the major decisions of the University are sound. This means that the Vice-Chancellor will consult with the Chancellor and seek guidance or input as is appropriate and keep the Chancellor informed of developments in the University that may have strategic significance.

A Chancellor articulates the role of members of the governing body and is active in recommending new members. A Chancellor will encourage the collaborative contribution of all those who serve, promoting open discussion and transparent decision making.

A Chancellor plays a prominent representative role in the life of the university, including presiding at ceremonial occasions such as graduations. In this capacity, a Chancellor symbolises and embodies the values and educational purpose of the university. A Chancellor seeks to exemplify the high standards of the university within the wider community.

Chancellors also advocate for their university’s interests. They are expected to have extensive and comprehensive knowledge of the university and a visible commitment to its mission. They will have the stature necessary to win the respect of leaders in the public, private and community sectors and to encourage benefactors to provide philanthropic support for the university’s activities.