ACT News


New University of Canberra vice chancellor to be Professor H. Deep Saini

The University of Canberra's newly-announced Vice-Chancellor, Professor H. Deep Saini, said he was convinced to move half way around the world because of the unique campus redevelopment vision of outgoing Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker.

Speaking from Toronto where he is Vice-President of the University of Toronto - Canada's top-ranked, largest and most research-intensive university - Indian-born Professor Saini said the opportunity to lead a young and progressive university had been impossible to turn down.

Professor Saini is leaving two daughters and a grandchild behind in Canada to relocate with his wife Rani.

He spent part of a sabbatical living in Canberra in 2000 while he worked at the CSIRO.

"I know Canberra well, it is no mystery to me, but I look forward to discovering new things."

Professor Saini said decades of acclimatisation to Canadian winters had prepared him well for the move.


"Your winter is going to be like going to a party for me. I intend to play golf throughout your winter."

Professor Saini will take up the position on September 1.

Professor Parker will step down from the role on July 1, after more than nine years in the job, with the UC Council to appoint an acting Vice-Chancellor until Professor Saini commences his appointment.

Professor Saini completed his undergraduate and masters degrees at the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, India, and holds a doctorate in plant physiology from the University of Adelaide.

He began his Canadian academic career at the University of Alberta as a post-doctoral fellow, joined the Université de Montréal where he served as the director-general of the Plant Biology Research Institute and then moved to the University of Waterloo as dean of the Faculty of Environment.

In August 2010, Professor Saini assumed leadership of the University of Toronto Mississauga. During his tenure, he has been in charge of overseeing several multi-million construction projects on campus.

Professor Saini said he had been approached about the job by an international headhunter last November, while he had been holidaying with his wife in a remote part of Southern India.

"I have to say at first I was not sure, but I began looking closely at the University of Canberra and its 'Educated Life' campus development plan and the more I looked, the more it excited me. The university is an outward facing institution on a great trajectory … and I want to contribute to it in a meaningful way."

He described UC as having "an audacious academic path. It has remarkably enterprising, distinctive and bold plans, which are already producing impressive results".

Chancellor and chair of the University Council, Professor Tom Calma, said the university's governing body had been delighted that "the internationally experienced university leader and academic has agreed to become the University of Canberra's fifth vice-chancellor".

"Professor Saini's outstanding academic pedigree and vast international experience will be key to delivering on our vision to be recognised as one of Australia's most innovative tertiary institutions; world-ranked, with regional, national and international reach," Professor Calma said.

Professor Parker said he was also very pleased to learn of the appointment.

"Professor Saini comes from a very senior position in a truly world-leading university and will be great for the University of Canberra. He will have my full support as I hand over the many exciting projects that the University is undertaking."