Sydney University's scandal-ridden St Paul's College has appointed its first lay warden since its inception in 1854, with the former head of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship program Donald Markwell to run the oldest college in Australia from next year.
Dr Markwell was a fellow of three Oxford University colleges for more than a decade and spent nine years as warden of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne. He will replace Ivan Head, who retires at the end of this year after serving as warden of St Paul's since since 1994.
Dr Head announced his retirement a week after after he responded to a student's Facebook post comparing women to "harpooned whales" with a warning about the implications of such behaviour on residents' CV.
St Paul's was the only college that refused to participate in a university-wide cultural review led by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, which was triggered by a series of incidents at colleges, including the establishment of a "pro rape" Facebook page by students at St Paul's in 2009.
After heavy criticism, the college eventually agreed to take part in the review, which is to due to be released to colleges by the end of the year.
Dr Markwell's official appointment will initially be as vice-warden and head of college until the St Paul's College Act (1854) is amended to remove the requirement that the warden be an ordained Anglican clergyman. He will then formally be appointed as warden.
Dr Markwell said he was committed to ensuring the best possible collegiate education for students at St Paul's College, including mentoring its students, and increasing opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds.
"As well as academic and extra-curricular success, this includes upholding the values for which the college stands, including genuine respect for women and men alike," he said.
"I am committed to St Paul's College being a centre of excellence, not a bastion of privilege," Dr Markwell said.
The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Michael Spence, said, "I am delighted for St Paul's College that it has been able to recruit a candidate of the calibre of Dr Markwell. He will be an excellent mentor and support to the students and has a clear vision for the value of a liberal education."