Australian National University management has been embarrassed by the publication of a job ad that appeared to seek a replacement for the school of music's head, Peter Tregear. The ad was quickly pulled.
Professor Tregear returns from study leave on Monday.
When asked to clarify Professor Tregear's continuing status at the university, deputy vice-chancellor (academic) Marnie Hughes-Warrington issued a statement saying the ad had been a mistake and the job would be in addition to, not excluding, Professor Tregear, who had just been offered a new contract.
The ad was published last fortnight internally and online without prior consultation with school of music staff. It called for expressions of interest in a professor of music – academic level E.
The job specifications were for an "outstanding scholar with an internationally renowed [sic] research profile and a strong educational and leadership background ... This position provides leadership and excellence in music."
But the ad was also interpreted by some in the university community as a call-out to replace existing head Professor Tregear, who took on the troubled school in 2012 for an initial 18-month contract, which has been renewed for three years.
Professor Tregear said he had been contacted by concerned staff and academic colleagues who wanted to know whether he was staying or going.
"As one might imagine, I was rather surprised when colleagues started to contact me out of the blue to tell me my job had been advertised. I was travelling interstate and it took a while to find out what was going on," he said.
"Lest there be any doubt, I remain as committed as I was in 2012 to ensure the ANU, the ACT and the nation as a whole has a tertiary-level music school worthy of the national capital," Professor Tregear said.
"While I of course acknowledge the challenges we have encountered, the school has also made some remarkable progress over the past 2½ years. I'm grateful to students and staff of the school as well as the wider Canberra community for their renewed and ongoing support and shared ambition and passion for the art form – you can have no doubt that all of us care deeply about ensuring the school, and great music education more generally, flourishes for generations to come."
Professor Hughes-Warrington stressed there was no move afoot to remove Professor Tregear.
"To ensure ongoing stability in the school's leadership, the head of the school of music, Professor Peter Tregear, will be offered an ongoing level E position and a fixed-term contract as head of school." His current contract will expire in February 2017.
"In addition, the university has agreed to increase the school's funding to allow for the appointment of a second level E academic position to focus on outstanding research and teaching – in addition to the head of school.
"This new position will report to the head of the school and further boost the school's research and teaching capacity," Professor Hughes-Warrington said.
"An advertisement for the new position was mistakenly published before full consultation with school of music staff had been finalised. The ad was subsequently withdrawn. The position will be readvertised once internal processes have concluded," she said.
Professor Hughes-Warrington said the ANU believed the school had a strong future as Australia's finest institution for the study of music.
It recently invested $250,000 in the school's equipment and facilities, and a new program of market research was being developed to further promote the school and its activities.