RICHARD Torbay will finish up as the University of New England’s (UNE) chancellor in mid-April to focus on his burgeoning career in federal politics.
The independent Northern Tablelands MP announced his decision to resign at a UNE Council meeting on Thursday and plans to direct his attention towards his campaign as the Nationals candidate for the seat of New England.
His resignation comes six months short of the end of his five-year term.
Mr Torbay was appointed chancellor in 2008 following the resignation of John Cassidy, after a vote of no confidence from the university’s staff and a period of turmoil.
Mr Torbay said he had always intended to stay on as chancellor, for as long as it took to have the university turn its fortunes around.
Mr Torbay told The Leader seeing this happen during his term was a source of great pride, but it was also due to the work and co-operation of all the university’s staff.
He said UNE had the largest number of students in its history, was in the best budgetary position in decades – with a structural surplus of $13.8 million last year – and was investing in a number of areas, particularly agriculture and medicine.
Despite a strongly competitive sector, Mr Torbay said he was confident in the university’s future, with a strong vice-chancellor in Professor Jim Barber at the helm and a supportive staff.
The departing chancellor has worked at UNE since 1980, when he was employed as a kitchenhand at the age of 18.
He said there was still an “enormous amount to do” in his remaining two months, with extensive capital expenditure, the college redevelopment and seeing new management appointments “bedded down”.
Mr Torbay also looks forward to handing testamurs out to “each and every” graduate at the ceremonies in April.
Opening the university’s new Western Sydney campus would likely be his last official engagement before leaving on April 20, he said.