On most Friday afternoons, Brian Schmidt, vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, sends members of the university a link to his genial blog. Just over three weeks ago, on 1 June 2018, it contained news that would gain just a little more media attention than usual. Wedged between a discussion of changes to the university’s admissions policy and a report on a forum about its investment strategy, Schmidt announced that after several months of discussion with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, ANU had “taken the difficult decision today to withdraw from contention for the program.”
“We approached the opportunity offered by the Ramsay Centre in a positive and open spirit,” Schmidt continued, “but it is clear that the autonomy which this university needs to approve and endorse a new program of study is not compatible with a sponsored program of the type sought.” When dealing with funding opportunities, he explained, the university has a policy of “retaining, without compromise, our academic integrity, and autonomy and freedom, and ensuring that any program has academic merit consistent with our status as one of the world’s great universities.”
The positioning of the announcement halfway through a regular blog was deliberately low-key, and everyone involved — including the Ramsay Centre and its CEO, Simon Haines — was thanked for their efforts.
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