Fellows of Senate

Dr Michael Spence

Dr Michael Spence took up his appointment as Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney, and official Fellow of Senate, on 11 July 2008. At its meeting on 17 September 2012, Senate approved his reappointment for a second five-year term to commence on 1 July 2013.

Terms of office as Vice-Chancellor:

  • term 1: 11 July 2008 - 30 June 2013
  • term 2: 1 July 2013 - 30 June 2018

Dr Spence is an ex-officio member of the following Senate committees:

  • Buildings and Estates Committee
  • Chair Appointments Committee
  • Education and Research Committee
  • Finance and Audit Committee
  • Investment and Commercialisation Committee
  • Nominations and Appointments Committee
  • Safety and Risk Management Committee


BA LLB Sydney DPhil PGDipTheol Oxf
Vice-Chancellor and Principal, and ex-officio Fellow of Senate, 2008 -

Dr Spence is an alumnus of the University, having graduated with First Class Honours in English, Italian and Law (BA (Hons) ’85 and LLB (Hons)’87). Before leaving for the University of Oxford in 1988 to undertake doctoral studies, Dr Spence lectured in Law at the University and also worked for the Australian Copyright Council.

At Oxford, Dr Spence obtained his DPhil and continued to develop his career there over the next 20 years. He became a Fellow of St Catherine’s College and a Lecturer of the University of Oxford in 1992. Three years ago he also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Theology from the University of Oxford.

During his time at Oxford, Dr Spence became internationally recognised 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. He remains a consultant to the London law firm, Olswang and serves as a WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center Panelist. He has lectured on intellectual property-related topics around the world, and held a number of visiting appointments in Boston, Munich and Siena. He has twice been a Parsons Fellow at the University of Sydney Law School.

In addition to his formidable academic qualifications, Dr Spence brings to his new role equally impressive administrative expertise and achievement. He served as head of the Law Faculty at the University of Oxford and most recently, was Head of the Social Sciences Division, one of the four Divisions that make up the University. In this capacity, he reported to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford as part of the small team that served the University as a whole, and was a member of its Council.

Among his many achievements at Oxford, Dr Spence oversaw significant growth of research activity and funding in the Social Sciences, and the strengthening of links between the social science departments, and between them and the University more broadly.

One of Dr Spence's priorities at Oxford was actively to encourage fundraising and substantial sponsorship from benefactors and corporate groups. He was a driving force behind the establishment and financial support of a number of Oxford's new research centres and institutes, such as the Oxford Centre for Educational Assessment and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. His responsibilities included oversight of some of the University of Oxford's most innovative research units, including the James Martin School for the 21st Century and the Oxford-Man Institute for Quantitative Finance.

Dr Spence is the University of Sydney’s 25th Vice-Chancellor.

From the Vice-Chancellor's web page.

Vice-Chancellor, 2008 -

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