AUSTRALIAN Catholic University’s vice-chancellor Professor Greg Craven – a “strong and respected” Church voice – is to retire early next year after 13 years of leadership.
Professor Craven has overseen the transformation of ACU into a leading Australian institution that is now in the top 10 Catholic universities globally.
“Professor Craven is always ready to go into battle for what he believes in, he has been a strong and respected voice for the tertiary education sector and for the Catholic Church in Australia,” ACU Chancellor and former New South Wales premier John Fahey said.
“I am personally proud of Professor Craven’s achievements and of the success he has brought to ACU.
“We will miss his boundless energy, passion for promoting research and learning, sound judgement and innovative policy initiatives.”
In the media, Professor Craven, a constitutional lawyer, has been a staunch supporter of Cardinal George Pell.
In February last year, after a suppression order banning coverage of the cardinal’s conviction for child sexual abuse was lifted, he wrote a robust opinion piece for The Australian newspaper entitled “George Pell: a case in which justice never had a fair chance”.
“The main institutions involved here are the media and the police. The media must report cases fairly, abide by the letter and spirit of the law, and not barrack for either side,” Professor Craven wrote.
“The police present evidence impartially, working for justice, not conviction. Media and police never combine to form a pro-conviction cheer squad.
“This is where the Pell case has gone terribly wrong.”
In a fiery interview on ABC News following Cardinal Pell’s acquittal last week, Professor Craven again accused the national broadcaster of acting as a “cheer squad” in having the prelate jailed over child abuse claims.
He claimed the ABC “tried to drown out” arguments pointing to Cardinal Pell’s innocence.
Professor Craven was appointed ACU Vice-Chancellor in April 2008.
As well as his legal and academic credentials, he has advised on higher education policy and Catholic education, and has carved out a position as a leader in Australia and internationally.
“I have been Vice-Chancellor of ACU for 13 years. No-one deserves a Vice-Chancellor longer than that,” he said.
“It has been really humbling seeing what happens when a university genuinely sees its role as doing good for others. God knows, it’s not fashionable.”
During his tenure, ACU has doubled its student numbers, expanded the courses offered to students, developed a stronger and more targeted focus on research, constructed new buildings and infrastructure to support students and staff, and added campuses in Adelaide, Rome and Blacktown.
“I think ACU proves there is a place for Catholic universities in Australia. You can be Catholic, charitable and quality all at the same time. In fact, that’s the deal,” he said.
“Our Rome campus has been an astonishing success and helped give us a world profile. A lot of Australian universities could have a campus in Rome.
“Only ACU can have a Roman campus.
“The notion of a ‘Catholic university’ is a composite noun.
“The Catholic intellectual tradition is one of the oldest and most sophisticated in the world.”
Executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles has been hired to recruit ACU’s next vice-chancellor and president.