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Adelaide Uni loses another senior leader

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One of the University of Adelaide’s chief executives who helped spearhead merger talks with cross-town rival the University of South Australia has resigned amid looming staff cuts.

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In an email to University of Adelaide staff a week ago, seen by InDaily, acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Brooks wrote that the university’s external relations chief executive Inga Davis had decided to take a “voluntary separation in order to contribute to the university’s savings target”.

Davis has worked at the university since 2016, helming its alumni, philanthropy, community relations and volunteering programs, as well as overseeing media and internal communications.

She will finish in the role on September 18 to return to the ACT, where she previously worked as a director at the University of Canberra.

In his email to staff, Brooks described Davis as a “valued member” of his senior leadership team, who “transformed and professionalised” the university’s engagement programs.

“Inga has been a driving force for ensuring the University would become an active participant in the wider community, and that we in turn would be welcoming of that community,” he wrote.

“Most recently, Inga led the communications stream for the exploration of the proposed merger with UniSA, and the Incident Management Task Group that was established to respond to the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Brooks did not say whether the university would find a replacement for Davis.

Her resignation comes as the university deals with a financial black hole opened up by the pandemic and its halting of fee-paying international students.

The university faces an anticipated $100 million shortfall for its 2020 budget, with current projections indicating that the total reduction in revenue in 2020 and 2021 would be in the order of $225 million, compared with that generated last year.

Staff earlier this week voted to have their pay cut by 3.5 per cent as part of a union deal to retain 200 jobs, but hundreds are still set to go.

InDaily on Monday asked the university to confirm whether a senior staff member had resigned and, if so, for what reason, but did not receive a response.

The university did not respond to subsequent emails and phone calls from InDaily until this morning.

The university has had a year of change and turmoil in its senior ranks.

On May 4, former Governor Kevin Scarce resigned as Chancellor, six months before the end of his six-year term.

On May 5, Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen was granted indefinite leave, and on May 7 Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander announced he had launched an inquiry into alleged “improper conduct” by Rathjen.

Rathjen resigned from his position in July, citing “ill health”.

Deputy Chancellor Catherine Branson was elevated to the Chancellor position in July.

Long-term Deputy Vice-Chancellor Pascale Quester left the university last month to take up a promotion to Vice-Chancellor at Swinburne University of Technology.

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