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Murdoch v-c quits

ABC News     |     27 October 2014

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Murdoch University vice-chancellor Richard Higgott, under investigation by WA’s anti-corruption watchdog, has resigned from the position.

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Higgott was last month suspended on full pay after he was reported to the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) by the university.Richard Higgott

It did not detail the nature of  Higgott’s alleged misdemeanours.

The CCC said at the time it had been monitoring a university investigation into the academic’s conduct and had received a provisional report from Murdoch detailing new allegations.

Murdoch Chancellor David Flanagan said the Senate had accepted Higgott’s resignation.

The Australian reports that in June an anonymous group of staff, calling itself the “Murdoch Meta Management Group”, sent a scathing letter to Flanagan which included allegations about Higgott’s credit card use, the way he dealt with his colleagues and the financial and academic performance of the university.  The group said its members believed the university was in “crisis”, describing Higgott and provost Ann Capling as “arrogant, poor listeners who had systematically destroyed the collegiate culture of the university”.

Nevertheless, the precise allegations being investigated by the commission remain a mystery.

Benjamin Reilly, a professor at the university,  has labelled the disgruntled group as  “nameless cowards” resistant to reform.

Higgott tried to turn Murdoch into what it was, into a ­research-led elite university.  That is a big, audacious undertaking and not everyone is able or willing to be part of an elite university. I think this small group are essentially the people who can’t or won’t get with the program. But they are in no way representative of most of us.

Higgott has been vice-chancellor at Murdoch since 2011 and was previously pro-vice chancellor for research at Warwick University in the UK.

He is described on the Murdoch University website as a political scientist with a 36-year career split between Australia and Europe.

In a statement Higgott said “it is the right time for me to retire,” and he was “looking forward to pursuing broader interests of both an academic and non-academic nature.”

Flanagan said Professor Andrew Taggart had been appointed Acting Vice Chancellor in the wake of Professor Higgott’s resignation, effective immediately.

Professor Taggart is a long-standing member of the University’s strategic leadership team and has the full support of Senate and senior staff in carrying out this important responsibility.

Flanagan said the university staff and wider Murdoch community had been very supportive during a trying period. He said Professor Higgott had made a valuable contribution to Murdoch.

Professor Higgott’s vision and leadership in refocussing Murdoch into a globally recognised research-led university is a legacy for which he will be justifiably recognised.

 

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