James Cook University Chancellor William Tweddell

Mr William Tweddell

Chancellor of James Cook University

Mr William (Bill) Tweddell BA, BEc JCU was elected as Chancellor by the James Cook University Council for a five-year term, commencing on 26 March 2016. Mr Tweddell is the University’s fifth Chancellor, and the first alumnus to be elected to the role having graduated from JCU with a Bachelor of Arts (English Language and Literature) in 1972 and a Bachelor of Economics in 1976.

In 2010, he was recognised as one of JCU’s Outstanding Alumni.

Mr Tweddell has enjoyed a distinguished career in Australia’s diplomatic service spanning four decades.  Most recently he served as Australia’s Ambassador to the Philippines from January 2012 to January 2016.

Mr Tweddell was a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has  previously  served  as  Head  of  the  Americas  and  Africa Division of the Department   in   Canberra, as Australian   Ambassador   to  Vietnam, Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Consul General, Hong  Kong and  Macau, High  Commissioner to Sri  Lanka and  the  Maldives and  Deputy  High  Commissioner,  India, with  earlier  postings  to Greece and Bangladesh.    He  was  also  Chief  of  Staff  to  the  former  Minister  for  Foreign  Affairs, Alexander Downer.

One of the world’s leading institutions focusing on the tropics, James Cook University is surrounded by the spectacular ecosystems of the rain forests of the Wet tropics, the dry savannas, and the iconic Great Barrier Reef. Its unique location enables students from Australia and overseas to study in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world. JCU is ranked in the top 2 percent of the world’s tertiary institutions by the respected Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

JCU is a leader in research addressing the critical challenges facing the tropics, world-wide. A defining feature of JCU is its tropical location and its research excellence in disciplines of particular relevance to the tropics.  JCU conducts nationally significant and internationally recognised research in areas such as marine sciences, biodiversity, tropical ecology and environments, global warming, tourism, and tropical medicine and public health care in under-served populations. JCU’s aim is to position itself as a national and international leader in teaching and research addressing critical challenges facing the tropics world-wide. As a comprehensive university in the tropics, JCU is well placed to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations to meet these challenges.

Born of the traditional model of excellence in teaching and research, James Cook University has become a modern and dynamic university of truly global standing. JCU graduates hold top-level positions around Australia and the world, and our research has earned us a world class reputation. Since its establishment in 1970, JCU has expanded into a multi-campus institution with its main campuses in the tropical cities of Cairns, Singapore and Townsville, with smaller study centres in Mount Isa, Thursday Island and Mackay. There is also a Russo Higher Education operated campus in Brisbane.

James Cook University logo.


(Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by the
Shanghai Jiao Tong University)


Since its inception, JCU has become a dynamic, multi-campus
university with over 24,000 students.


JCU is ranked 38th in the top 150 of the world’s universities
under 50 years old (Times Higher Education 150 Under 50
Rankings 2016).


JCU is the only Australian institution in Singapore to be
recognised with ‘University’ status.

Townsville campus photographer: Andrew Rankin.

JCU’s students come from many backgrounds, promoting a rich cultural and experiential diversity on campus. JCU’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses span the Arts, Biomedical Sciences, Business, Creative Media, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Healthcare Sciences, Information Technology, Law, Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery, Pharmacy, Planning, Psychological Science, Science, Social Work, Sustainability and Veterinary Science. JCU aims to give graduates the qualifications and skills they need for the global workforce.

As set out in its Statement of Strategic Intent, James Cook University is dedicated to creating a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide, through graduates and discoveries that make a difference.

JCU is a comprehensive University. Its teaching and research focuses on four themes:

  • Tropical Ecosystems and Environment
  • Industries and Economies in the Tropics
  • Peoples and Societies in the Tropics
  • Tropical Health, Medicine and Biosecurity.

An international University as reflected in its people, places, and research, JCU takes quiet pride in being recognised as a leading tertiary institution in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and among the universities of the world.

One university | Two countries | Three tropical campuses

To find out more, visit the James Cook University website www.jcu.edu.au opens-in-a-new-window

James Cook University Council

Consistent with the James Cook University Act 1997 (QLD) and its function as the prime instrument of University governance, the Council of James Cook University has primary responsibility for:

  • appointing the vice chancellor as the chief executive officer of the University, and monitoring his/her performance;
  • approving the mission and strategic direction of the University, as well as the annual budget and business plan;
  • overseeing and reviewing the management of the University and its performance;
  • establishing policy and procedural principles, consistent with legal requirements and community expectations;
  • approving and monitoring systems of control and accountability, including general overview of any Controlled Entities (as defined in 50AA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth));
  • overseeing and monitoring the assessment and management of risk across the University, including commercial undertakings;
  • overseeing and monitoring the academic activities of the University;
  • approving significant commercial activities of the University.

Membership of James Cook University’s Council is as follows:

Ex-Officio Members

Mr William Tweddell – Chancellor (to 25 March 2021)
Professor Sandra Harding – Vice-Chancellor (to December 2021)
Professor Stephen Naylor – Chair of the Academic Board (to 18 August 2018)

Appointed Members – Governor-in-Council

Mr Campbell Charlton (to 19 April 2018)
Mr Ryan Haddrick (to 19 April 2018)
The Hon. Peter Lindsay OAM (to 19 April 2018)
Ms Lynette McLaughlin (to 19 April 2018)
Magistrate Steven Mosch (to 19 April 2018)
Mr Peter Phillips (to 19 April 2018)
Mr Trent Twomey (to 19 April 2018)
Dr Les Tyrell OAM (to 19 April 2018)

Appointed Members – Convocation

Mr Robin Gilliver (to 19 April 2018)
Mr Graham Kirkwood (to 19 April 2018)

Elected Members

Professor Peter Leggat – Academic Staff (to 19 April 2018)
Associate Professor Anthony Leicht – Academic Staff (to 19 April 2018)
Dr Lee Skerratt – Academic Staff (to 19 April 2018)
Ms Vanessa Cannon – Professional Staff (to 19 April 2018)
Ms Julie Caswell – Professional Staff (to 19 April 2018)
Ms Megan Carey – Undergraduate Student (to 19 April 2018)
Mr Matthew Derlagen – Postgraduate Student (to 19 April 2018)
Mr Edward Harridge – Undergraduate Student (to 19 April 2018)

Additional Member

Mr Ernest Landy – Graduate (to 30 June 2017)

Other Governing Bodies

Other Governing bodies within the University include:

Academic Board

Chair – Professor Stephen Naylor

Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee

Chair – Mr Campbell Charlton

Awards and Ceremonies Committee

Chair – The Hon. Steven Mosch

Chancellor’s Committee

Chair – Mr William Tweddell, Chancellor

Finance Committee

Chair – Mr Peter Phillips

Human Resources Committee

Chair – Mr William Tweddell, Chancellor

Sub-Committees Include:

Estate Sub-Committee

Chair – The Hon. Peter Lindsay OAM

Health, Safety and Environment Sub-Committee

Chair – Mr Ryan Haddrick

Education Committee

Chair – Professor Tarun Sen Gupta

Research Committee

Chair – Professor Chris Cocklin, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

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