Attila Brungs named UNSW vice-chancellor

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Professor Attila Brungs has been appointed  as the new UNSW Sydney president and Vice-Chancellor, moving over from the same role at the University of Technology Sydney where he has worked for more than a decade.

He will take up the role in January next year, returning to the university he first studied at and replacing outgoing vice-chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs, who is stepping down after seven years to return home to the UK for family reasons.

Professor Brungs said he had mixed emotions about leaving UTS for his alma mater but the move back presented an opportunity to lead a renewed innovation push at an institution that cares deeply about its broader impact.

Professor Attila Brungs. Image: UTS/Toby Burrows

“UNSW is one of the best-placed universities to partner with government and industry to drive the research commercialisation and translation agenda to help forge a bright future as we navigate the post-pandemic world, as well as meeting the skilling revolution Australian society needs,” Professor Brungs said.

“This promises to be one of the most challenging periods for higher education in Australia.”

Professor Brungs has a distinguished academic and research career, beginning as an undergraduate at UNSW then becoming a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and completing a Doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry

He spent four years with global consultancy McKinsey & Co, then moved to CSIRO in 2002. In 2009 he joined UTS as deputy vice-chancellor (research) and was appointed vice-chancellor in July 2014.

Professor Brungs’ appointment was announced by UNSW Chancellor David Gonski on Tuesday.

“This is an outstanding appointment for UNSW,” Mr Gonski said.

“The position was highly contested which is a great tribute to Professor Jacobs’ distinguished leadership of the University’s 10-year plan, which has seen UNSW grow from strength to strength. The University has focused not only on academic excellence, but on innovation and engagement and social impact; a strategy which Professor Brungs is committed to continuing.

“Professor Brungs’ inclusive leadership style as well as his commitment to students, to innovation and to partnerships with community and industry, will also perfectly align with our strategy.”

Professor Brungs will become UNSW’s 10th President and Vice-Chancellor.

UTS Chancellor Catherine Livingstone congratulated him on the appointment and thanked him for all he had achieved over the last 12 years.

“Attila is both universally liked and respected, and we will all miss him,” Ms Livingstone said.

“He will take leave as Vice-Chancellor towards the end of October and from that time I am pleased to announce that the UTS Provost Professor Andrew Parfitt will serve as Acting Vice-Chancellor until the appointment of the university’s next and fifth Vice- Chancellor.”

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