ANU School of Music still searching for a head

Professor Malcolm Gillies will remain as the interim head of the ANU School of Music. Photo: Stuart Hay, ANU The ANU School of Music is still struggling in its search for a new head after the latest candidate, Alan Lourens, the head of the University of Western Australia School of Music, declined the job.

Dr Lourens confirmed he was offered the position but he has informed his staff he will be staying in Perth.

An ANU spokesman said the search for a new head of the ANU School of Music was still in progress and the university could not comment further until the selection process was concluded.

The university confirmed Professor Malcolm Gillies would remain as the interim Head of School until the new head has been appointed.

The School of Music has now been without a permanent head since August 2015 when Professor Peter Tregear left suddenly. With 18 months left on his contract, the university was embarrassed by an unauthorised advertisement which appeared to be seeking his replacement. The job was widely referred to as a poisoned chalice.

Professor Tregear was brought in in 2012 to reinvigorate the school which had been devastated by a $1.5 million budget cut and the axing of 14 staff under Vice-Chancellor Ian Young.

It is understood Professor Tregear was forced out following six months of increasingly tense relations with senior management over his calls for more staff positions to be filled and greater administrative support for the school.

In March, another leading candidate declined the position after months of negotiations.

ANU Vice Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt has acknowledged deep levels of unhappiness at the school. He said earlier this year that restoring stability to, and community confidence in, the school was a first order of business under his leadership of the university.

In February Professor Schmidt appointed former Public Service Commissioner Andrew Podger to review the School of Music.

The six-month consultation project found the school was plagued by a legacy of distrust, emotional stress, years of poor management and behaviour, sliding academic standards and financial pressures.

It called for a complete overhaul of governance, funding, academic direction, enrolments, staff culture and community engagement.

The report was welcomed by Professor Schmidt who announced a $12.5 million investment over five years to rebuild the school’s academic and performance programs and improve workplace culture.

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