Professor Glyn Davis AC

Vice-Chancellor


The Vice-Chancellor is the Chief Executive Officer of the University. The Vice-Chancellor and the senior executives form the highest level of management at the University.

Glyn Davis is the 19th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne and a professor of political science in the University’s Faculty of Arts.

Beginning his term in January 2005, Professor Davis championed the Growing Esteem strategy for the University of Melbourne, centred on the ‘triple helix’ – an aspiration to offer outstanding research, education, and engagement, with each strand reinforcing the others.  This strategy has encouraged major investments for the University in new research infrastructure, and an emphasis on engagement through cultural activities, archives and museums. Professor Davis has also encouraged a new focus on advancement, with the Believe campaign launched in May 2013 – the largest fundraising drive in the University’s history.

With Growing Esteem the University of Melbourne became the first Australian institution to align with international degree structures, adopting the Melbourne Model from 2008. The Melbourne Model saw all professional degree programs taught at graduate level, and undergraduate students pursuing multidisciplinary learning in one of six broad bachelors degrees offered by the University.

Professor Davis is a public policy scholar, who writes on policymaking and coordination of central government agencies.  He graduated with first class honours in political science from the University of New South Wales, with a thesis supervised by Donald Horne on the origins of the radio station 2JJ. His doctorate from the Australian National University examined the political independence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  He undertook postgraduate appointments studying public broadcasting as a Harkness Fellow at the University of California Berkeley, the Brookings Institution in Washington and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

In parallel to an academic career from 1985 at Griffith University, Professor Davis has worked at high levels of government, serving as Director General of the Department of Premier – the most senior public service role in the State of Queensland – and on national bodies including the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority.  He served as Foundation Chair of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

In 2008 he co-chaired the 2020 Summit with the Prime Minister at Parliament House, Canberra. The 2020 summit provoked a broad national policy conversation around Australia.

Professor Davis commissioned the widely subscribed Australian journal Griffith Review and supported formulation of the journalism-academia news site The Conversation.  He has chaired global higher education network Universitas 21 and served on the Hong Kong University Grants Committee. He was a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Global Engagement for the American Council on Education, and continues as a Director of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King’s College London.

Professor Davis has served on the boards of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Theatre Company and, for more than a decade, the Melbourne Theatre Company.

In 2010, Professor Davis presented the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Boyer Lectures, on the theme 'The Republic of Learning: higher education transforms Australia'. In 2017, he published The Australian Idea of a University (Melbourne University Press), a historical exploration of Australia’s higher education sector and issues confronting its future.

Professor Davis is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, and a Companion in the Order of Australia. He is a founding Director of the Grattan Institute, a Director of Asialink and the Melbourne Business School.

Professor Davis has been elected a Visiting Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government and a Visiting Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford from 2018.

Recent publications

The Australian Idea of a University, 2017, Carlton: Melbourne University Publishing
The Australian Policy Handbook (6th edition), with Catherine Althaus and Peter Bridgman, 2017, Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin
The Hard Conversation: Indigenous Voices on Public Policy”, with Ian Anderson, Meanjin Vol 75, No 2 published 15 June 2016
Facing the zeitgeist: Dissolving the university, Griffith Review, 52: Imagining the Future, 2 May 2016
Universities in the service of the nation, Melbourne University Law Review, 2015, Vol. 38, pp. 861-872
Intergovernmental Relations and the Role of Senior Officials: Two Case Studies and Some Lessons Learned, with Helen Silver, Australian Journal of Public Administration, 2015, Vol. 74, No. 4, pp. 467–483
Meanjin, G Croucher and G Davis (eds), 2015, Vol. 74, No. 3
The Australian idea of a university, Meanjin, 2013, Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 32-48
The Australian Policy Handbook (5th edition), with Catherine Althaus and Peter Bridgman, 2013, Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin
Leader of the gang: How political parties choose numero uno, 2011, Griffith Review
'The Republic of Learning: higher education transforms Australia', 2010, Australian Broadcasting Corporation 51st annual Boyer lecture series
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