University of Adelaide appoints Professor Peter Høj as Vice-Chancellor

Peter Hoj

The University of Adelaide recently announced it has appointed Professor Peter Høj AC as its new Vice-Chancellor and President for a five-year term, to commence on 8 February 2021.

Professor Høj’s appointment follows an extensive global and domestic search by executive recruitment firm Heidrick & Struggles, which has worked closely with the University Council’s Selection Committee on the appointment.

Danish-born Professor Høj is a Fellow of Academies in Australia, the USA and Denmark, and has been awarded honorary doctorates from institutions including the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, and University of Copenhagen.

He comes to his new role at the University of Adelaide with more than 20 years’ senior leadership experience in higher education and research – as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Queensland (2012-2020), Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Australia (2007-2012), CEO of the Australian Research Council (ARC) (2004-2007), and Managing Director and CEO of the Australian Wine Research Institute Pty Ltd (1997-2004).

Professor Høj was also Foundation Professor of Viticultural Science (1995-1997) and Professor of Oenology (1997-2004) at the University of Adelaide.

A member of the Australian Government’s University Foreign Interference Taskforce, in 2019 Professor Høj was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for “eminent service to higher education and to science, particularly to the commercialisation of research, and to policy development and reform”.

“Professor Peter Høj is one of Australia’s most outstanding and highly respected leaders in higher education, and we are delighted to have him as our new Vice-Chancellor,” said the University’s Chancellor, the Hon. Catherine Branson AC QC.

“Peter is an inspiring leader with an outstanding track record, driving success at a national and international level, building university rankings and research output, with his focus on a high-quality, student-centred approach to the teaching and learning experience, and employer satisfaction with graduates.

“Peter is also highly regarded as an inclusive and collaborative leader who has a strong social justice agenda, such as on issues of sustainability and equity, support for students from low SES backgrounds and for Indigenous students. In order to give the best to students, he spearheaded a philanthropy campaign at the University of Queensland which reached its target of $500 million raised well in advance of its deadline.

“Professor Høj has called South Australia home for more than 20 years, and he has a longstanding connection to our University dating back to 1995.

“The combination of Peter’s leadership capabilities, commercial acumen, and local knowledge and relationships make him an excellent choice to lead us into the future. As our University emerges from the impact of COVID-19, his leadership will ensure we maintain our standing as one of the world’s leading institutions of learning and innovation,” Ms Branson said.

“Professor Peter Høj is one of Australia’s most outstanding and highly respected leaders in higher education, and we are delighted to have him as our new Vice-Chancellor.”The Hon. Catherine Branson AC QC

Professor Høj said he was honoured to be chosen to lead a University consistently ranked in the top 1% of the world’s universities.

“The University of Adelaide is recognised as a centre for excellence in higher education and delivering world-leading research outcomes. I will do all I can to build on the University’s success and to continue to attract and retain outstanding students and staff.

“I feel a great affinity for South Australia and the University of Adelaide, where I was first offered an academic position 28 years ago and moved here with my family. I had always intended to return to South Australia to continue to make a significant contribution to the future of this State, and indeed returned here to our home late last year to spend more time with our family. It is a great privilege to be able to make that contribution as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide.”

Professor Høj said his first priority will be to “engage deeply with the University community, to build on the excellent history of the University of Adelaide in serving its local and global communities”.

“A strong University of Adelaide is essential for the long-term benefit of our State.

“I believe the University of Adelaide should aspire to be further recognised globally for its excellence in its teaching, research and engagement achievements, and to be highly valued locally with an outstanding staff cohort proud to call this institution their employer.

“Ultimately, the work of a Vice-Chancellor is about creating a better future for our many current and future students, and placing their success at the heart of what we do. In doing this, we will create new opportunities for our students, for industry and government, and for our community to thrive,” Professor Høj said.

“Ultimately, the work of a Vice-Chancellor is about creating a better future for our many current and future students, and placing their success at the heart of what we do.”Professor Peter Høj AC

Professor Høj succeeds Interim Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Mike Brooks FTSE FACS, a leading international researcher in computer vision and image analysis. Professor Brooks will retire from his role at the University of Adelaide on 12 February 2020.

“I thank Mike Brooks for his strong leadership of the University during challenging times. He has been critical to helping the University navigate its way to a better future,” Ms Branson said.

“I particularly acknowledge that Mike put his plans to retire from his role at the University on hold, so that our institution could emerge from the difficulties of 2020 on a stronger footing. He did so with the commitment that he would stay in the role until new leadership could be found. This has been a very welcome example of Mike’s longstanding dedication to the University of Adelaide community.”


Professor Peter Høj – further background

In addition to the positions mentioned above, Professor Høj’s many commitments and achievements have included:

  • Co-Deputy Chair of the Australian Government’s Strengthened Export Controls Steering Group (2012-2016)
  • Member of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) (2016-2020)
  • Board Member (Ministerial appointment) of Wine Australia (2018 – present)
  • Trustee of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (2020 – present)
  • Member of the Australian Human Rights Commission Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity (2016-2020)
  • Member, Group of Eight (Go8) Board (2012-2020) and Chair, Group of Eight (2017)
  • Board Member of: Universities Australia (2009-2013); CSIRO (2011-2014); Business SA (2009-2012); and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) (2011-2012), among many others.
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