The Hon. Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC was formally elected for a second term as Bond University’s 8th Chancellor today.
Dr Bennett, who joined the University in 2016 after retiring as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, said she was delighted to be elected as Chancellor for a second term.
“I am grateful that the members of the Company and my fellow directors have the faith in me to elect me for a further term,” Dr Bennett said.
“I love being at the University, working with the Vice-Chancellor and Council. I had been involved in the tertiary sector before, but I was positively surprised at the extent of the collegiality between the staff and Council.
“There’s a very positive feeling on campus and staff are really committed to the University, and that makes it very easy to be Chancellor.”
Last year, Dr Bennett was made a Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia for her services to the law and to the judiciary, particularly in the areas of intellectual property, administrative law and sports arbitration; and to the community through a range of educational, medical, women’s and business organisations.
Dr Bennett, one of three commissioners leading the 2020 National Royal Commission into the Black Summer Bushfires, said Bond staff go above and beyond to deliver an exceptional student experience.
“We give flexibility to students in courses, and that cross-faculty education is incredibly important. It’s very hard for students to know exactly what they want to do when they start at University, so giving them the opportunity to develop those interests is critical,” Dr Bennett said.
“Bond’s great advantage is its size. And that’s why, for so many years, it has come out top of the pops for student satisfaction.”
Being student-centric ensures that Bond stands out, which Dr Bennett attributes to staff, especially the University’s Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford.
“Bond has a wonderful VC in someone who has a very strategic mind, yet cares so much about the students. He truly cares about every student,” Dr Bennett said.
“When I first met the Vice-Chancellor he said ‘our first priority is our students, the second priority is our students and the third priority is our students’.
“Students really are Bond’s priority. I have great faith in the University because of the VC and his team.”
Dr Bennett juggles many other distinguished roles including Chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), as an Arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, President (part time) of the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW, and Member of the Board of Directors of the Garvan Institute as well as consulting as a Senior Counsel, a mediator and an arbitrator.
Dr Bennett said the ‘jewel in the crown’ of her many responsibilities is Bond’s graduation ceremonies where she personally presents every graduand with their degree.
“Some of them say ‘I’m going to conquer the world!’ – I love that,” she said.
“Talking to students and finding out what they’re going to do with their lives - it really is a thrill. And often overseas students say that they feel grateful for the opportunity to be at Bond, they feel they have been nurtured.
“Bond is the best thing I do, I experience pure joy when I’m there.”
Describing a ‘Bondy’ is easy, she said.
“Independent. Students who come through Bond are confident – not over-confident though– and they’re independent and looking to the future with optimism,” she said.
“The feeling I get when I talk to students is that they feel qualified, and therefore confident and ready for the future.
“Bond doesn’t let students fall through the cracks. I think our students go out of their way to make sure they’re all part of the cohort.”
Also elected to Bond University Council was alumna, Kate Vidgen. Kate has been with Macquarie Bank since June 1998, where she is now Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Oil and Gas Principal Macquarie Capital.
Kate is also a Non-Executive Director of Aurizon Holdings Ltd, Australia’s largest rail freight operator and a top 100 ASX company.
Kate is a strong supporter of diversity and is the Victorian Chair of Chief Executive Women and a director on the national board.
Dr Bennett is also Member and past President of Chief Executive Women, Chair of the Advisory Group of Judges to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Chair of Landservices SA, Member of the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Law at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and a Commissioner with the NSW Law Reform Commission.
Dr Bennett studied Science at the University of Sydney, where she completed a PhD in cell biology before studying law and practising as a barrister, later specialising in intellectual property.