The University of Tasmania has chosen its first female Chancellor in its 130-year history with Reserve Bank of Australia board member and former UTAS student Alison Watkins to take on the role.
Ms Watkins - former chief executive officer of Coca Cola Amatil and GrainCorp - takes over from former Tasmanian premier Michael Field from Friday.
A "self-described farm girl", Ms Watkins attended Sorrel District School and St Michael's Collegiate in Hobart before studying commerce at UTAS and forging a career as an executive for major ASX-listed companies.
She said she was looking forward to engaging with the community over ways the university can improve education attainment.
"The place-based approach that the university is taking, to me, as a way of connecting with all Tasmanians and making education and educational attainment much more of an integral part of the fabric of who we are, is a huge opportunity," Ms Watkins said.
"When I think about what's important to me, education, sustainability, community, relationships, these are all things that have been important threads for me through my career.
"No doubt I've got a lot of listening and learning to do to get up to speed, and I'm absolutely excited to be doing that, and really looking forward to the next few years."
UTAS previously had Kim Boyer in the role of acting Chancellor in 1998 - but has never had a female permanently serving in the position.
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Ms Watkins said her appointment reflected the growing role of women in executive and leadership positions across Australia.
"I've seen women take on more and more leadership roles over the 30 or so years I've been working," she said.
"I think it's a really important part of improving sustainability and diversity of all of our organisations, so it's a wonderful privilege."
The selection committee reached the decision based on Ms Watkins' connection to Tasmania and extensive corporate and board experience.
She arrives at a time when UTAS is encountering significant reductions in international student numbers and following the federal government's higher education reforms.
Vice-Chancellor Rufus Black said the university had been able to adapt to changing circumstances, and international student numbers would not be returning to pre-pandemic levels.
"We've been aiming to get them to a sustainable level, which is more than we've got today, and we do look forward to being able to get them - over the next year or into the following year - coming back to a healthy level," he said.
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