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Vice-Chancellor awarded CASE Asia-Pacific Leadership Award

November 25, 2020
Recognition of outstanding support for education and advancement
The Vice-Chancellor has been recognised with a leadership award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has announced Dr Michael Spence AC, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney as the recipient of the 2019 CASE Asia-Pacific Leadership Award. The award recognises institutional leaders for their outstanding efforts in promoting and supporting education and advancement.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) is the global non-profit association dedicated to educational advancement – alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, advancement services, government relations and student recruitment. Member institutions include more than 3,600 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and non-profit organisations in 82 countries.I’m honoured to receive this award but I want to acknowledge that the University of Sydney’s outstanding achievements have been made possible by the dedication and excellence of our professional and academic staff and of course our extraordinary donors in their generosity and vision.Dr Michael Spence


CASE’s citation supporting Dr Spence’s award reads, in part:  

As the University of Sydney’s 25th vice-chancellor, Spence’s exceptional leadership enhanced the reputation of the University, both in Australia and on the global stage.  

The Vice-Chancellor’s exceptional leadership and networking skills have facilitated important additions to the university campus – including the establishment of the Brain and Mind Centre and the Charles Perkins Centre. Although relatively new additions, these multi-disciplinary teaching and research initiatives are proving to be crucial for the attraction of funds and world-class researchers to the university. He has also driven investment in the physical university environment, both on and off the Camperdown campus. 

Under the stewardship of Dr Spence, the University has maintained a strong and steady pace in reviewing service improvements and efficiencies, releasing resources for reallocation to research, education, student experience and other strategic initiatives. A simplified leadership structure will enable faster, better informed institutional decision making. The University’s faculty model has been refreshed to comprise of just six faculties and three University schools including a single, integrated Faculty of Medicine and Health. The opening of the landmark Chau Chak Wing Museum on 18 November 2020 allows rarely seen objects from the University’s collections to be displayed for the first time. 

Dr Spence has championed the principle of gender equity across all areas of study at the University of Sydney. Under his leadership, the number of women enrolling in engineering degrees increased to 32 percent, double the Australian average. 

His commitment to centralisation and the stronger integration of academic disciplines has resulted in a more cohesive educational experience for students, such as the new four-year undergraduate curriculum, introduced in 2018. As part of this new curriculum structure, Dr Spence introduced common course structures and definitions across each award course. This new structure provides students with new opportunities to study or work with other disciplines and get involved in real-world projects. 

Dr Spence has enhanced the reputation of the University of Sydney, both in Australia and on the global stage. His exceptional leadership has been instrumental to the success of the INSPIRED philanthropic campaign, which achieved a fundraising goal unmatched yet by other tertiary institutions in the country. Under his direction, the university has pioneered new developments and published world-class research, cementing its place as a centre for educational excellence. 

A key driving force behind the University’s INSPIRED philanthropic campaign launched in 2013, his visionary direction was instrumental to its success of raising over AUD1 billion, a feat still unmatched by other tertiary institutions in Australia. Spence implemented strategic engagement and philanthropy changes which yielded incredible results, enabling the University to reach its AUD600 million fundraising goal in 2017, two years ahead of schedule. In January 2019, the campaign achieved the revised goal of AUD1 billion. 

“The success of the University of Sydney’s INSPIRED campaign and other philanthropic efforts reflect his recognition of the importance of institutional advancement in transforming lives. He is an inspirational leader who is deserving of the award,” said Heather Hamilton, executive director at CASE Asia-Pacific. 

The entry of the INSPIRED campaign into the 2019 CASE Platinum Award for Fundraising has also won the University the rare distinction of being named not only the best in the Asia-Pacific region, but also the best in the world.  

About CASE

CASE believes in advancing education to transform lives and society. As a global non-profit membership association of educational institutions, CASE helps develop the communities of professional practice that build institutional resilience and success in challenging times. The communities include staff engaged in alumni relations, advancement services, communications, fundraising, government relations, marketing and student recruitment.  

CASE is volunteer-led and uses the intellectual capital of senior practitioners to build capacity and capability across the world. CASE has offices in Washington, D.C., London, Singapore and Mexico City.  

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