University of New England vice chancellor resigns after schoolgirl assault charge

University of New England vice chancellor resigns after schoolgirl assault charge

“There will be moments in the coming days and weeks to say personal things to individuals. As an end note – I wish to respectfully acknowledge the support of my colleagues both at University of New England and elsewhere.”

The university has been under pressure to stand aside Heywood since it emerged she was charged with common assault and behaving in an offensive manner in or near a public place after an incident at the Armidale Ex Services Memorial Club on March 8.

The teen’s father said the incident occurred after a discussion at the event when the teenager approached another member of the panel to say that she related to that speaker’s experience of racism

“When she said that, the vice chancellor licks her finger with saliva and rubs it on my daughter’s face and says something to the effect of ‘Oh you’re brown, yes you’re right, it’s not coming off’,” the father said.

He rejected a police statement that emphasized there was no physical harm to the alleged victim.

“In this day and age, saliva on someone’s face, is that not an injury?”

NSW Labor’s tertiary education spokesman Tim Crakanthorp and local MP Adam Marshall joined the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) on Wednesday in calling for the university council to stand Heywood down pending the conclusion of the proceedings.

Harris heaped praise on Heywood in Friday’s statement, thanking her for “her strong leadership of the university in navigating a period of tremendous change”.

He said Heywood had led important work in refocusing the university and creating new pathways for the institution.

“Professor Heywood considers it a great honor to have been the vice-chancellor and chief executive officer,” Harris said.

He said both Heywood and the university council acknowledged the deep hurt by many on hearing of the charges, thanking the community for its patience as it “worked through these matters”.

“The university council wants to clearly state that it remains deeply committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for its students, staff and community at all times,” Harris said.

The university’s vice chancellor Professor Simon Evans will act in the vice chancellor role while a replacement is found.

NTEU NSW Secretary Damien Cahill said Heywood’s resignation was appropriate under the circumstances.

“This affair does leave unanswered some very important questions that relate to governance at [University of New England],” he said.

“How long did the university know about these claims that led to the VC’s resignation? Why were they silent for so long? There remains significant work to be done by the senior leadership to rebuild the trust of students, staff and broader community in this great public education institution.”

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