The Senate is the governing body at Murdoch University, and is subject to the Murdoch University Act 1973.

Senate members

  • Chancellor | Ex-officio
    Gary Smith Chancellor of Murdoch University and Chair of the University Senate

    Mr Gary Smith


    Mr Gary Smith was appointed the seventh Chancellor of Murdoch University and Chair of the University Senate on 8 August 2019.

    A highly regarded businessman and community leader, Mr Smith is the former Chairman of Partners at KPMG Western Australia with decades of management consulting experience in large scale program management, strategy and leadership initiatives.

    As Chancellor, he brings access to extensive national and global networks and a strategic focus to help Murdoch University deliver its bold research, infrastructure and learning agenda.

    Mr Smith’s community work includes advocacy for reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Western Australians in his role as Co-Chair of Reconciliation WA.

    He is also a current Director of the WA Aboriginal Leadership Institute (WAALI), a Founding Director of the Committee for Perth and a participant in the Hawaiian Ride for Youth.

    Mr Smith holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Deakin University and is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

  • Vice Chancellor | Ex-officio

    Professor Eeva Leinonen

    Professor Eeva Leinonen


    Professor Eeva Leinonen joined Murdoch University as Vice Chancellor and President in April 2016, after three years of service as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Wollongong.

    Professor Leinonen has an academic background in linguistics and psychology and has extensive experience in higher education in the United Kingdom, Europe and internationally. Her academic research focuses on pragmatic deficits of children with autistic spectrum disorders as well as higher education topics relating to curriculum and use of technology in learning.

    Prior to moving to Australia in 2012, Professor Leinonen held the position of Vice-President (Education) and Professor of Clinical Linguistics at King’s College, University of London.

    Professor Leinonen has been actively involved in national and international higher education debates and advisory groups. Which have included: Chair of the UK Higher Education Funding Council/Quality Assurance Agency advisory group into Employer Engagement in Learning, Trustee of IntoUni Charitable Trust, Member of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group in Australia; Director and Board Member of Future Directions International; Forrest Research Foundation Governors Committee Member.

  • One member elected from and by the academic staff
    Gerd Schröder-Turk

    Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk

    Term expires 11 March 2021

    Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk received a PhD from the Australian National University in 2005 for his thesis, “Skeletons in the Labyrinth”, on geometric aspects of the self-assembly of bicontinuous phases in soft matter systems.

    He has held academic appointments at the Australian National University (2005-06), Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU, 2006-2015) and Murdoch University (2015-present), and has been a visiting fellow of the Australian National University (2014), Swinburne University (2012), Lund University and Copenhagen University (both 2019).

    He completed a habilition degree at FAU in 2013, and was awarded the Emmy-Noether-Prize in 2014.

    Schröder-Turk is currently an Associate Professor at Murdoch University in Perth, an elected member of the Senate of Murdoch University and a member of the National Executive of the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP).

    He has been the chairman of a number of international conferences, including most recently the Biennial Congress of the Australian Institute of Physics in 2018 in Perth, and the AAS Boden Research Conference Animal, Vegetal, Mineral in 2016, and was chair of the West Australian branch of the Australian Institute of Physics in 2017 and 2018.

  • One member elected from and by non-academic salaried staff

    Ms Julie Whitlock

    Ms Julie Whitlock

    Term expires 8 April 2021

    Julie is an experienced senior leader with a background in strategy, marketing, product development, customer experience, digital and managing large-scale transformation programs. Currently, Julie is Associate Director of Digital Innovations at Murdoch University leading the Digital First Project to transform the Murdoch website and other digital initiatives to help meet the University strategic pillar of Physical and Digital Environment. Of note is the Murdoch University website winning the 2017 Sitefinity Website of the Year award in the Education Category.

    Prior to joining Murdoch University, Julie held a range of positions at HBF Health with the most recent being Head of Digital Strategy & Operations. Outside of work, Julie is a consumer advocate and member of the Health Consumers’ Council of WA and volunteers on a range of research and consumer projects with organisations such as PMH as and Telethon Kids Institute. Most recently, Julie was appointed as the WA consumer representative on the national Child Digital Health Record Committee.

    Julie has completed numerous executive education courses in the areas of leadership and management in addition to holding an Executive Diploma from ECU.

  • Two members who are students

    One member elected by and from the undergraduate students

    Mr Jethro Schoeman

    Term expires 31 December 2020

    One member elected by and from the postgraduate students

    Mr Rohan Dodda

    Term expires 31 December 2020

  • Two members elected from and by the graduates of the University

    Mr Roland Belford

    Term expires 31 December 2020

    Roland Belford graduated from Murdoch University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Australian Indigenous Studies. Whilst a student Roland captained the hockey team, was President of the Student Guild and founded a club dedicated to Pokémon.

    Roland believes that public universities should serve the public of Western Australia and be run for the social good above all else. He passionately believes that public institutions like Murdoch should be transparent, accountable and open to critique and scrutiny.

    When not spending time with his partner Anika and dog Lyra, Roland works as a student advocate for the Murdoch Guild of Students.


    Abby Agrawal

    Mr Abby Agrawal

    Term expires 31 December 2021

    Abby brings a varied range of experience with him from multiple industries such as Global Resources, Hospitality, Contracts and Support Services where he formed part of various functions managing complex projects and leading diversified teams. Abby has extensive people & network management experience and have held responsibility for the development of stakeholder engagement plans for the operational and service delivery of Workplace functions for more than ten years. In addition, as a member of these executive teams, Abby has been involved in establishing and planning the long-term strategic goals, corporate plans, management plans and long-term policy direction towards providing a constructive, objective and unbiased recommendations to multiple teams deployed within the functions and projects.

    Abby has successfully completed his Master of Business Administration and Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources from Murdoch in 2018. He also holds Bachelor of Business with Double major in Information Systems and Hospitality from Edith Cowan University.

    Abby has joined the Senate in 2019 as a Graduate Alumni member with the vision to represent his peers, colleagues, to work with Senate and other university bodies in order to achieve and develop a great understanding of the depth of University Education and the policies that drive education further which in line would contribute to the success of the graduated student population of Murdoch.

  • Three members appointed by the Governor*

    Mr Peter Kerr

    Mr Peter Kerr

    Term expires 21 December 2021

    Peter is an experienced resources industry executive who has worked in the Australian and North American mining sectors for the last 20 years, including hands on finance, corporate and operating roles for precious and base metals, energy and bulk materials businesses. He has held CEO and CFO positions focused upon business strategy, commercial and financial management and reporting, organisational and business development, capital management and investment market activities, and legal and company secretarial matters.

    Peter held the position of CFO of ASX-listed iron ore producer Mount Gibson Iron Limited from 2012, and was appointed CEO in October 2018.

    Peter holds a Commerce degree from the University of Western Australia, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Finance from the Financial Services Institute of Australasia, and is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Peter also sits on the Executive Council of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) and the Corporate, Regulation and Tax committee of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC). Outside his business commitments, Peter is Chairman of medical research institution The Diabetes Research Foundation of Western Australia Inc.

    Peter is also Chairman of the Resources Committee of the Murdoch University Senate.

    Rebecca Tomkinson

    Ms Rebecca Tomkinson

    Chief Executive Officer – Royal Flying Doctor Service (Western Operations)

    Term expires 19 November 2021

    Rebecca Tomkinson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Western Operation), appointed to this role in January 2018. Rebecca is accountable for the sustainability and success of the 84 year old iconic WA business that provides life-saving aero medical health services to the people of Western Australia.

    Rebecca brings a highly strategic, broad sector lens and strong executive experience to her role. Her professional experience includes leading transformational change, building sustainable business models, government relations, strategic policy development and stakeholder engagement.

    Rebecca has held advisory roles across a number of sectors and is deeply committed to the development of regional Western Australia – where she was raised and educated.

    Rebecca is the Chair of the Wheatbelt Development Commission and serves on the Board of Perth Zoo and the Senate of Murdoch University. Her qualifications includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Development, Post Graduate Diploma in Public Policy and a Post Graduate Certificate in Social Impact.

    Carmel McLure

    The Hon Carmel McLure AC QC

    Term expires 29 April 2022

    Carmel McLure AC QC is a former President of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. She was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2001, a Justice of Appeal on the establishment of the Court of Appeal in 2005 and its President in 2009. She retired from the Bench in 2016.

    A graduate of UWA and Oxford, she served as Private Secretary to the Commonwealth Attorney General before joining a corporate law firm where she became a partner in 1984. In 1995, she joined the Independent Bar and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1997. She is currently a Director of the Fremantle Port Authority and member of the Senate of Murdoch University. She was formerly a member of the Board of the WA Academy of Performing Arts and the Council of Edith Cowan University.

    In 2016, she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the law and judiciary in Western Australia, to legal administration and professional development, and to the community through contributions to tertiary education and arts organisations.

  • No more than five members co-opted by the Senate*

    Mr Gavin Buckingham

    Mr Gavin Buckingham

    Term expires 17 August 2023

    Gavin is a partner at Ernst & Young has more than 30 years experience providing audit and advisory services to large listed and private organisations in the UK, USA, Africa and Australia.

    Gavin is the Oceania Assurance Mining and Metals Leader responsible for overseeing the development and execution of Ernst & Young’s go to market M&M assurance strategy across Oceania.

    Mr Ross Holt

    Deputy Chancellor Ross Holt

    Term expires 9 June 2023

    Ross has an Honours Degree in Economics from the University of Western Australia and has been a career public servant. He spent 18 years in the Western Australian State Treasury department with his last 4 years as Assistant Under Treasurer. In this role he was responsible for economic and taxation policy, financial relations with the Commonwealth government and the internal IT and corporate functions.

    In 1993 he was appointed CEO of the WA Land Authority (LandCorp) and over his extensive 20 year tenure oversaw its growth into a major land and infrastructure development agency involved in all areas of the Western Australian property industry. With annual revenues in the order of Au$400-500 million and a staff of 220, LandCorp had a portfolio of more than 150 projects involving the residential, commercial, regional and industrial sectors.

    After retiring from the WA public sector in 2014 Ross has been engaged in various property and development related entities. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a member of the Murdoch University Senate including, Resources and Chancellor's and Nominations Committees.

    Mr Ross Hughes

    Mr Ross Hughes

    Term expires 1 September 2023

    Ross graduated from Curtin University (then “WAIT”) in 1980 and joined BankWest’s inaugural graduate recruitment programme, which launched a 25 year career in financial services ranging from branches, to human resources, international lending in Edinburgh, and ultimately Chief Financial Officer of the HBOS Australia Group of companies.

    He joined the West Australian Water Corporation in 2006 in the role of CFO which has enabled him to lead a wide range of areas including finance, pricing, procurement, property, strategy, legal services, insurance and risk.

    Ross was awarded the WS Lonnie Award for Chief Financial Officer of the Year in 2009 by the WA Institute of Public Administration Australia and the Australia-wide Public Sector Finance Manager of Year in the 2011 Fairfax Dealbook Awards.

    Ross is a member of the Water Services Association of Australia Utility Excellence Committee and member of the Perth Seawater Desalination Plant Operations and Maintenance Alliance Lead Team.

    Ross is on Fellow of CPA Australia and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

    Emeritus Professor Colleen Hayward AM

    Term expires 31 May 2022

  • President of Academic Council (ex-officio)

    Parisa Bahri

    Professor Parisa A. Bahri

    Term expires 31 December 2020

    Parisa Bahri is a Professor of Engineering at Murdoch University, the President of Academic Council and the Head of Engineering and Energy.

    Following the completion of her PhD in Chemical Engineering at Sydney University in 1995, Parisa started her academic career as a lecturer in the same department, moving to Murdoch University in 1997 to help setting up engineering programs. Parisa has had a busy career in terms of teaching, research and administrative roles. She has been involved in establishing many of the teaching programs in Engineering at Murdoch University, has supervised numerous postgraduate students and has attracted and administered many industrial and collaborative research grants.

    Since 1997, Parisa has held various administrative roles including chairship and membership of several key University committees, such as University Promotion Committees, Academic Council, and Self Assessment Team for Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) program, to name a few. 

    Parisa is a Fellow of Engineers Australia (by invitation) and the WA representative on the National Committee on Automation, Control and Instrumentation.

  • Secretary to Senate

    Ms Trudi McGlade

    University Secretary

*As per section 37. Transitional provisions (Senate) for Universities Legislation Amendment Act 2016 as at 02 Jan 2017 (Murdoch University Act 1973)


Good governance promotes better performance

Our Senate Charter sets out the guiding governance principles and practices that should be upheld at all times, as well as bringing together the policies and procedures that the Senate adopts and which form part of best practice governance.

All of Murdoch’s stakeholders are entitled to demand performance, fairness, transparency, accountability and appropriate disclosure from the Senate. This dictates that a comprehensive professional focus on effective governance must take high priority.

Governance offers a framework for approving the Strategic Plan of the institution, the oversight of its resources, the approval of its policies and procedures, the appointment, review and support of its Vice Chancellor, and an informed understanding of its programs and activities.

As part of our ongoing commitment to improving Murdoch's governance standards, the Senate has adopted this Statement of Governance Principles.

University Chancellors Council

Murdoch University is a participant in the University Chancellors Council (UCC). The UCC comprises Chancellors of all public, not-for-profit universities within Australia. The UCC is used as a means for university Chancellors to discuss key issues and current events surrounding the tertiary education sector in Australia.


Meeting datesDocument deadlines
Wednesday 5 February 2020 (Special Meeting)
Wednesday 22 January 2020
Wednesday 9 March 2020
Wednesday 17 February 2020
Monday 13 May 2020
Monday 22 April 2020
Wednesday 22 July 2020
Wednesday 1 July 2020
Wednesday 2 September 2020 (Senate Retreat)Wednesday 12 August 2020
Wednesday 21 October 2020
Wednesday 30 September 2020
Wednesday 9 December 2020
Wednesday 18 November 2020