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Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence

Promoting and developing our University

Our Vice-Chancellor is the University's principal executive officer and is instrumental in determining our strategic direction.

The Vice-Chancellor leads the University and determines its overall direction in consultation with the Senate, the Senior Executive Group (SEG) and Academic Board.

The Vice-Chancellor also plays a major role in nurturing and sustaining the University’s relationships with its many key external stakeholder groups, including alumni, donors, local, state and federal governments, and leaders in business, industry and the professions.

The Vice-Chancellor’s portfolio includes:

  • Government Relations
  • Higher Education Policy
  • Global Engagement
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Office of General Counsel
  • Secretary to Senate
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Office

Our 25th Vice-Chancellor

Dr Michael Spence BA LLB Sydney DPhil PGDipTheol Oxford

Dr Michael Spence was appointed the 25th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney in 2008.

Under his leadership, the University has forged its distinctive strategy. The first University of Sydney Strategic Plan 2011–15 championed the development of multidisciplinary centres, including the Charles Perkins Centre, the China Studies Centre, the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, the Australian Institute of Nanoscalescience and Technology and the Brain and Mind Centre.

In 2015, Dr Spence is leading the development of the University's 2016-20 Strategic Plan, which is being informed by a wide-ranging consultation with our staff, students and other key stakeholders.

An alumnus of the University of Sydney, Dr Spence graduated with first-class honours in English, Italian and law. His many languages also include Chinese and Korean. Dr Spence lectured in law at the University and worked for the Australian Copyright Council prior to departing from Australia and establishing himself at the University of Oxford in order to undertake doctoral studies.

At Oxford, Dr Spence obtained a Doctor of Philosophy and a Postgraduate Diploma in Theology. He became a Fellow of St Catherine’s College and during his 20 years at St Catherine’s, he headed the law faculty and the social sciences division - one of the four divisions that make up the University of Oxford.

Dr Spence is recognised internationally as a leader in the field of intellectual property theory. His work includes articles and books on both intellectual property law and the law of obligations, with a critical focus on suggested ethical and economic justifications of the existing regimes.

Dr Michael Spence

"Our focus has always been on equipping our people with the skills and qualities for leadership so they can meaningfully serve all our communities at every level."