Returning to become the University of Wollongong's first female vice-chancellor was never on the cards for Professor Patricia Davidson back in the late 1970s.
"I started nursing at Wollongong Hospital in 1977 and never did I have any dream that I would come back as vice-chancellor of the University of Wollongong,"' she said.
"I've seen the university develop and grow since the '70s and I really think it has a place on the world stage.
"I'm honoured and humbled to be able to lead the university at this critical time in history."
The Mercury contacted Professor Davidson at her home in the United States on Wednesday after her appointment was announced.
She will join UOW from her current position as Dean of the School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.
Johns Hopkins University is one of the top private research universities in the world.
Professor Davidson has held the role of Dean since 2013.
When Professor Davidson takes up her new role in Wollongong in May 2021, she will also be the first UOW vice-chancellor who is also an alumna.
"I spent 20 odd years in Wollongong, so I'm not new to Wollongong at all, I definitely know where to go when I get there," she said.
"It is a huge honour. I'm following on from some impressive leaders who preceded me ... so I've got some big shoes to fill."
Professor Davidson will replace departing VC Paul Wellings and become the fifth vice-chancellor since UOW became an independent university in 1975.
She was appointed VC and Principal after an "extensive global recruitment process".
'I'm really looking forward to having a transition period with Professor Wellings to really understand the strategic issues facing the university," she said.
"I'm excited about the great discipline areas that are at the University of Wollongong and in advancing the strategic plan to increase the global orientation of the university as well as embedding within the local community both in the Illawarra and the broader region.
"I think it is very exciting that the University of Wollongong is an anchor institution in the region, so I will really be looking forward to understanding and learning about the community."
Professor Davidson will assume responsibility for the UOW Group which encompasses UOW's global network of campuses including UOW in Dubai, the four campuses comprising UOW Malaysia KDU, UOW College Hong Kong as well as the University's Australian campuses and controlled entities.
UOW Chancellor Ms Jillian Broadbent AC, said she was thrilled at the appointment.
"Professor Davidson has been described by her Hopkins colleagues as being truly transformative in taking Hopkins Nursing to a higher level.
"She brings passion, energy, knowledge and leadership together with strong financial disciplines. Each of these qualities will be critical at this challenging time for the tertiary sector ' Ms Broadbent said.
UOW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Wellings, who announced his retirement in March, also welcomed Professor Davidson's appointment as his successor.
Professor Davidson thinks COVID-19 has really sent a jolt across the whole world and across many industries, including universities.
"So I think we will be looking at a number of opportunities to try and continue to develop and grow particularly after some of the slowing that has naturally occurred because of COVID-19 and the fact that international students haven't been able to come into the country and some individuals have really thought twice about travelling to a university," she said.
"I think every university in the world at the moment is facing a really challenging time.
"I think every university, in every part of the world has seen lots of income and financial losses.
"I think the University of Wollongong has done a great job of navigating this very challenging time.
"I'm hoping that when I come in May it will be a period of stabilisation and calibration and we hope the world will be back to some form of normalcy.
"I think even though Australia has certainly been impacted by COVID-19, I think as a country it's done a pretty good job of managing the pandemic.
"But the fact that the borders have closed has been a real disrupter to many industries and organisations, including universities."
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