Starting this week, Professor Amit Chakma commences his new role at the University of Western Australia as its 19th Vice-Chancellor. It follows an outstanding career in higher education leadership and academia in Canada, most recently 10 years as President and Vice Chancellor of The University of Western Ontario in Canada.
“I’m very much looking forward to meeting the wonderful staff and students at UWA and finding my way around this very beautiful campus,” Professor Chakma said. “My main focus will be to connect with the UWA community as we look to recover and rebuild following the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Born in Chittagong of then East Pakistan, Chakma completed his schooling in Bangladesh. In the early 80’s, he moved to Vancouver to complete his post-graduation. He has been the winner of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award and a technical advisor to engineering companies, research organisations, universities, and government agencies in Canada, Japan, Norway, and the US.
Chakma holds a Master of Applied Science and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of British Columbia. His research interests include greenhouse gas control technology, energy and environmental model system modelling, and petroleum waste management.
“I have been deeply impressed and moved by the responses of the students and staff of the University that I have seen to date. It is very clear that I shall be working with people of remarkable resilience and strength, with the capacity to act innovatively, compassionately and energetically,” he said.
In June, Chakma and his wife Meena flew to Perth from Canada for the new role and spent two weeks in self-isolation as per Government requirements. He looks positively at this new move to Australia and UWA.
“Like all universities worthy of the name, UWA is a creator of new knowledge and a custodian of intellectual endeavour, evidence-based enquiry and academic freedom. They have never been more needed than they are now,” he said. “We must also be mindful of our responsibility to the local community we serve, ensuring we act to benefit the social and economic wellbeing of the people of Perth and Western Australia.”
From 2001 to 2009 Professor Chakma served as Vice-President (Academic) and Provost of The University of Waterloo in Canada. He was inaugural Chair of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities and has held senior advisory positions with the Canadian Government on international education strategy and science, technology and innovation.
UWA Chancellor, Robert French AC, said Professor Chakma came to UWA with demonstrated success in developing high quality teaching and learning while building research capability and important partnerships across academic, government and industry sectors.
“He is committed to combining research excellence with outstanding student experience and has also demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity and equity in access to higher education. Professor Chakma has a proven track record and the necessary combination of experience, skills and capacity to lead the University at this important time in its history,” the chancellor said.