Reform continues at St John’s College with new council appointments, four years after allegations of bad behaviour

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St John’s College, a Catholic residential college within the grounds of the University of Sydney. Photo: Jason Tong, licence: CC 2.0, marginally cropped, colour temperature dropped.

Six members of the Council of St John’s College, a Catholic college within the University of Sydney, have resigned to make way for new council members and the continuation of reform being spearheaded by the Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.

Archbishop Fisher thanked the six clerical Fellows of the College for stepping aside, saying in a statement that it would enable him to renew the Council and to provide stable governance for the next few years.

Reform was instigating by the then-archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, in November 2012 after reports of vandalism and bad behaviour, including 35 complaints by students and others within the university community, as The Catholic Weekly reported at the time.

In the same month, NSW Police were called in to investigate threats which had been made towards people who had made allegations about the internal culture of the college, including claims of ritual abuse and mob rule.

Archbishop Fisher, in his 17 February statement, said that much had been achieved since that time, but that the work of reform was not yet complete:

“Since November 2012 the Council of St John’s College within the University of Sydney has been working to bring about lasting changes in College life and governance for the benefit of students for generations to come. Since that time great progress has occurred in improving the academic achievements and communal life of the students and in integrating women into all aspects of the life of the College,” the archbishop said.

“In 2014 the Council submitted proposed amendments to the College’s governing statute to the NSW government, with the endorsement of the Archdiocese and the University.  As yet amending legislation has not been introduced into Parliament.  The Council will continue to engage with the Catholic and the academic communities, and with the alumni of the College, to achieve the required governance reforms. These reforms to governance are essential if the improvements to the culture and life of the College are to be permanent. This work is not complete.

“Against this background, and in order to ensure that it can continue, the six clerical Fellows of the College Council recently resigned in order to give me the opportunity to renew the Council and to provide stable governance for the next few years.  I thank the clerical Fellows for taking this step. I have now appointed a new Council for a period of three years until February 2020.  The great majority of newly appointed Fellows have already served on the Council since 2012.

“I shall request the Council to continue to develop the necessary reforms, in particular, a model of governance which provides for the appointment of Fellows to ensure the range of desirable experience and skills.  In this regard, the Council should reflect all the stakeholders in the College – the Archdiocese, the University, the wider Catholic community and the past students.

“The Fellows appointed to the Council (see below) will continue to provide the experience and skills necessary for the College’s governing body in the 21st century.  They include persons distinguished in public life, in the University and college world, and in the life of the Church.  I am grateful for their generous commitment to continuing the work of reform and improvement – for the benefit of the students – at St John’s.”

St John’s College Council

Lay Fellows

Ms Michelle Carlin, MMgt (MGSM)

Executive Director, Global Student Recruitment, University of Sydney

Professor Marie Carroll, BA PhD (Otago)

Director of Educational Development, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney

Sister Giovanni Farquer RSJ, MA (Melb), Med Admin(New England), PhD (Melb), Hon DUniv (ACU)

Director, Commission for Ecumenism & Interfaith Relations, Archdiocese of Sydney

Professor James Franklin, MA (Syd), PhD (Warwick)

School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of New South Wales

Mr Matthew Gordon, BE LLB (Syd)

Director, Gordon Construction Company Pty Ltd, Sydney

Mr Joseph Hayes, BComm (ANU)

Partner, McGrathNicol Chartered Accountants, Sydney

The Hon Kenneth Handley AO OStJ QC, BA LLB Hon LLD (Syd)

Mr Daniel Hill KHS, BA (UNE), DipArts (Syd), DipEd (UNSW)

Director, Archdiocese of Sydney University Chaplaincies

Mr Khan Horne, BAgEc (Syd), MEc (UNE)

General Manager Agribusiness, National Australia Bank, Sydney

Mrs Christine Liddy AO, BA (UNSW)

Chair, St John’s College Council University of Sydney 2012

Professor Anthony Shannon AM KCHS, MA MLitt PhD EdD DSc

Master, Warrne College, University of New South Wales 2000-2012

Dr Bernadette Tobin AO, MA MEd (Melb), PhD (Cantab)

Reader in Philosophy, Australian Catholic University

Director, Plunkett Centre for Ethics, St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst

Clerical Fellows

Very Rev Gerald Gleeson VG, STB (CIS), MA (Cantab), PhD (Leuven)

Vicar General, Archdiocese of Sydney

Rev Daniel Meagher, BEc LLB (Syd), STL (Gregorian)

Rector, Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Homebush, NSW

Rev Brendan Purcell, MA PhD (University College Dublin), BD STL (Lateran)

Adjunct Professor in Philosophy, University of Notre Dame Australia

Very Rev Peter Williams VG, BA (ANU), BTh (ACT), BEd (La Trobe), MTh (Syd), MA (CUA), Hon DUniv (ACU)

Vicar General & Moderator of the Curia, Diocese of Parramatta