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New President & Provost Biography

Dr Michael James Spence AC has been confirmed as the new President & Provost of UCL by Council, the university’s governing body.

Image of Dr Michael James Spence

Dr Michael James Spence AC has been confirmed as the new President & Provost of UCL by Council, the university’s governing body. He will succeed Professor Michael Arthur when he steps down from the role in January 2021.

Dr Spence has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney since July 2008. He is recognised internationally as a leader in the field of intellectual property theory and holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he previously headed Oxford’s Law faculty and Social Sciences division.

Under his leadership, the University of Sydney has risen to first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability. As Vice-Chancellor, Dr Spence embedded diversity and inclusion in the university’s culture, transformed the undergraduate experience and created strategic partnerships with leading industry, government and community organisations across the globe.

He led the INSPIRED philanthropic campaign, raising a record A$1bn through the largest philanthropic campaign in Australian history. This fundraising transformed the university’s campus by funding major new research and education centres, bringing resources to life-changing medical research and providing more than 2,000 scholarships and education initiatives for new and existing students.

An alumnus of the University of Sydney, Dr Spence has a BA with first-class honours in English, Italian and Law. His other languages include Chinese and Korean. He is an Honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University and an ordained Anglican priest.

In 2017, Dr Spence was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to the higher education sector and in 2018 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales.