Glyn Davis has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne since January 2005. The University enrols 63,000 students, half in graduate programs, employs nearly 9,000 staff, leads Australian research rankings, and operates on an annual budget of more than $2.2 billion. Through Melbourne University Publishing, it supports Australia’s largest academic press.
At the University of Melbourne, Professor Davis has promoted the ‘triple helix’ – an aspiration to offer outstanding research, education, and engagement, with each strand reinforcing the others. This strategy has encouraged major investments in new research infrastructure and an emphasis on engagement activities such as archives, museums and advancement. In 2016 the University completed, two years early, the $500 million I Believe campaign, the largest fund raising drive in its history. Significant progress has been made on a revised Campaign target of $1 billion. Recent gifts included the last program funded by Atlantic Philanthropies in New York, worth $A 65 million, with a focus on Indigenous leadership.
The University of Melbourne is the first Australian institution to align with international degree structures. Adopting the ‘Melbourne Model’ from 2008 provided a rare opportunity to rethink curriculum, student services and teaching spaces across campus. All professional programs are now taught at graduate level, with undergraduates encouraged to pursue depth and breadth in one of six degrees offered by the University.
These strategic choices have been accompanied by major administrative reform, with Melbourne developing a divisional cost centre budget and shared services to support academic, student and infrastructure programs. The $80 m saved annually through shared services has been reinvested in core academic activity.
The University has also made substantial investments in on-line learning, developed through a partnership with global provider Coursera. The University of Melbourne is a national leader in the provision of Massive Online Open Courses, with nearly 1 million students from around the globe enrolled in Melbourne offerings. In 2016 the University launched a suite of professionally-orientated masters courses, offered for credit. These use the best available web technologies to provide an interactive experience with leading academics in the field of study.
During the past decade the University of Melbourne has been numbered among the fast-rising universities in global rankings. The US News & World Report assesses Melbourne as first in Australia, second in Asia to Tokyo, and 32nd in the world. The Times Higher Education Supplement ranks the University at 33 and the Academic Ranking of World Universities at 40.
Professor Davis is a public policy scholar, who writes on policy making and central agency coordination. He holds first class honours in political science from the University of New South Wales, with a thesis supervised by Donald Horne on the origins of the radio station 2JJ. His doctorate from the Australian National University examined the political independence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He undertook postgraduate appointments as a Harkness Fellow at the University of California Berkeley, the Brookings Institution in Washington and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
In parallel to an academic career from 1985 at Griffith University, Professor Davis has worked in federal and state governments. This included service as Queensland’s most senior public servant, with responsibility for developing and leading the ‘smart state’ strategy to make Queensland a centre for biotechnology and research translation. While serving as Director-General Professor Davis was also a member of national bodies such as the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority. He returned from public service to Griffith as Vice-Chancellor in early 2002.
This involvement with the public sector continued through a role as the Foundation Chair of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government. In 2008 Professor Davis co-chaired the 2020 Summit with the Prime Minister, a gathering of 1,000 Australian policy thinkers at Parliament House, Canberra.
Within Australian higher education, Professor Davis has served as Chair of the Group of Eight and Chair of Universities Australia, the peak body for the sector.
Internationally he has chaired Universitas 21 and served on the Hong Kong University Grants Committee. He was a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Global Engagement for the American Council on Education, and continues as a Director of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King’s College London.
In the arts, Professor Davis has served on the boards of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Theatre Company and, for more than a decade, the Melbourne Theatre Company. He commissioned the Griffith Review while in Queensland and, in Melbourne, worked with Editor Andrew Jaspan on foundation of The Conversation. With Gwil Croucher, Professor Davis edited the first 2016 edition of literary journal Meanjin, with a wide ranging survey of Australian democracy.
For the ABC, Professor Davis presented the 2010 Boyer lectures, The Republic of Learning: higher education transforms Australia. He hosts a regular podcast discussing public policy issues with national experts, The Policy Shop.
For the City of Melbourne, Professor Davis served as Chair of the Future Melbourne Ambassadors, a group of five citizens appointed by the Lord Mayor to lead community discussion around a new 10 year plan for the City. The plan was adopted unanimously by the Council in August 2016.
Professor Davis is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, a Companion in the Order of Australia, a Member of the Victorian Male Champions for Change, Chair of the Future Melbourne 2026 Ambassadors group, a founding Director of the Grattan Institute and a Director of Asialink and the Melbourne Business School.