University of Adelaide appoints its 17th Chancellor

Catherine Branson

The Honourable Catherine Branson AC QC, 17th Chancellor of the University of Adelaide.

The University of Adelaide Council today announced the appointment of former Federal Court Judge and Crown Solicitor of South Australia, The Honourable Catherine Branson AC QC, as its 17th Chancellor.

Council Member and Chair of the Chancellor Appointment Committee Ms Christine Locher said the Council was delighted to appoint Ms Branson as Chancellor, commencing on 14 July 2020.

“Cathy Branson takes on this important role at a particularly challenging time for our State, our University and the higher education sector in general,” says Ms Locher. “But the Council had no doubt that they were selecting someone of the highest calibre, proven throughout her outstanding legal and judicial career and in her service to our University,” said Ms Locher.

“She is highly respected throughout the State and is a very active participant in the South Australian community.”

Ms Branson, a Law and Arts graduate of the University of Adelaide, joined the University Council in 2013 and became Deputy Chancellor in 2017.

University of Adelaide Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Brooks warmly welcomed the appointment.

“Cathy’s strong leadership and keen judgement coupled with her long-standing connection and support of this University will all be of crucial importance as we continue to respond to COVID-19 and ensure a strong and sustainable future for our University,” Professor Brooks says.

“Our position at the heart of South Australia and our integral role in its future is ongoing, and we are very fortunate to welcome Cathy as our 17th Chancellor.”

Ms Branson said she was honoured and proud to be Chancellor of the University of Adelaide.

“As a South Australian and graduate of this University, I have long been proud of its global standing and the contribution it has made, and continues to make, to the State over almost 150 years,” says the Hon. Catherine Branson.

“I am honoured to be overseeing its governance, and helping ensure the University continues to provide the world-class education and research our State needs for its recovery and strong future.”

Ms Branson, as Chancellor, succeeds Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd), who retired from the position in May this year.

“As a South Australian and graduate of this University, I have long been proud of its global standing and the contribution it has made, and continues to make, to the State over almost 150 years.”The Hon. Catherine Branson AC QC, Chancellor

Biographical facts – The Honourable Catherine Branson AC QC

The Hon. Catherine Branson was raised on a farm near Hallett in the mid-north of South Australia, graduated from the University of Adelaide in both Law (1970) and Arts (1977), and went on to have a distinguished career in law.

At just 35, Ms Branson became Crown Solicitor of South Australia – and Chief Executive Officer of the Attorney-General's Department – the first female Crown Solicitor in Australia and first female permanent head of a Government department in South Australia.

Ms Branson served for more than 14 years as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. And, as President of the Australian Human Rights Commission for four years, was a determined advocate for the disadvantaged.

Prior to her appointment as a judge, she practised as a barrister at the Adelaide Bar in South Australia, principally in the areas of administrative law, including discrimination law and commercial law. She was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1992.

Throughout her career Ms Branson has been active in the community, holding senior board positions in numerous organisations involved in human rights as well as her other interests in areas such as the law, health, education and the arts.

She received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Adelaide in 2011 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Australian law and human rights, and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. Ms Branson received a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from Flinders University in 2012, and a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from Macquarie University in 2014.

In 2018 she was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to the judiciary and to the law as an advocate for human rights and civil liberties, to judicial administration and professional development, and to governance roles in tertiary education.

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