The Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (DASSH) elects its board members at the AGM held at the DASSH Conference in September each year. The Board consists of a President and Chair, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and up to four other members elected from the membership across Australia and New Zealand.

Meet the team

Professor Catharine Coleborne
President / Dean

Professor Catharine Coleborne is Head of the School of Humanities and Social Science/Dean of Arts at the University of Newcastle.

Catharine is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University. At the University of Newcastle, she has been involved in University-wide projects from workforce planning, business intelligence, leadership capacity building in the humanities and social science, and organisational change. Catharine has a strong interest in changing trends and cultural shifts in institutions, and in the higher education sector. Between 2016 and 2019, she has led teams of academic and professional staff to reinvent the BA at UON resulting in the 'New Work Ready' BA, which launched in 2018, and the new, innovative BA Online with FutureLearn from 2019.

Catharine is an active historian of health and medicine, specifically psychiatry and institutions. Interested in both medical and digital humanities, Catharine’s recent publications include Why Talk about Madness? Bringing History into the Conversation, a short intervention book (Palgrave/Springer, 2020); Insanity, Identity and Empire (Manchester UP, 2015), and recent contributions to edited book collections about geographies of mobility; disability and institutional records; and mental illness and its containment. She is the sole author of 4 books, the co-editor of 6 books, and has produced 29 book chapters and 22 refereed journal articles. She is CI2 on two ARC Discovery Projects, ‘Silent Treatment: The impact of solitary confinement on wellbeing’, with the University of Tasmania, and ‘The Development of Australian Community Psychiatry’, with the University of Sydney.

Before joining the University of Newcastle in late 2015, Catharine was based at the University of Waikato where she held roles as Professor (from 2014), Associate Dean Graduate and Postgraduate (2012-2015), and the Faculty’s Performance Based Research Fund Coordinator (2014), also playing a role on the TEC’s PBRF Sector Reference Group (2012). She has been a member of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund Panel for the Humanities (2019; 2012-2015). Her ambition for DASSH is that it becomes a more visible advocate for the humanities, social science and creative fields of study in the current and future higher education sector in Australia and New Zealand with industry and government partners.

EmailSchool of Humanities and Social ScienceThe University of Newcastle
Professor Robert Greenberg
Vice President / Dean

Professor Robert Greenberg is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland. He received his PhD from Yale University in 1991, and held teaching positions at Yale, Georgetown University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has served in academic leadership roles since 2000.  

A specialist in Slavic languages, he conducts research on the link between language, nationalism, and ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia. His publications include numerous books and articles on the Slavic peoples and their languages, with a special emphasis on language policies, language and society, and language and politics. His book, Language and Identity in the Balkans received an award in 2005 for the best book in Slavic Linguistics from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. In 2010 he was the recipient of the William Clyde DeVane medal for excellence in teaching and scholarship at Yale University.

As Dean, Professor Greenberg has been a staunch advocate of the value of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines. He has worked to increase his Faculty’s endowments, grow its research capacity, and introduce new programmes that will respond to the changing higher education landscape.

EmailFaculty of ArtsThe University of Auckland
Professor Nick Bisley
Secretary / Dean

Nick Bisley is the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University. His research focuses primarily on Asia's international relations, great power politics and Australian foreign and defence policy.

Between 2013 and 2018 Nick was the Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Journal of International Affairs and is a member of the advisory board of China Matters and a member of the Council for Security and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. He has been a Senior Research Associate of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and a Visiting Fellow at the East West-Center in Washington DC.

Nick is the author of many works on international relations, including Issues in 21st Century World Politics, 3rd Edition (Palgrave, 2017), Great Powers in the Changing International Order (Lynne Rienner, 2012), and Building Asia's Security (IISS/Routledge, 2009, Adelphi No. 408). He regularly contributes to and is quoted in national and international media including The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and Time Magazine.

EmailSchool of Humanities and Social SciencesLa Trobe University
Professor Cynthia White
New Zealand Officer / Pro-Vice-Chancellor

Professor Cynthia White has been Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University since 2019, and before that she served as Research Director for the College (2012-1019) and Head of the Department of Linguistics and International Languages (2008-2012). Her applied linguistics research focuses on emotion, agency and identity in discourse including in online contexts for language use and language learning. Her most recent projects focus on agency and emotion in narrative accounts of conflict and in the settlement experiences of immigrants and refuges in New Zealand. She has been member (2014- ) then chair (2018-) of the Royal Society Marsden Fund Panel for the Humanities and appointed member of the PBRF Humanities & Law Evaluation Panel 2012, reappointed 2018. In terms of governance experience she has been an elected member of Massey University Council (2010-2016) and member of the International Applied Linguistics Association (AILA) Executive Board 2017-2019.

Cynthia brings a lifelong commitment to identifying how new technologies can extend access to learning opportunities within the humanities, arts and social sciences; demonstrating the value of those opportunities in terms of the aspirations, outcomes and quality of life of individuals and communities has been central to those endeavours.

EmailCollege of Humanities and Social SciencesMassey University
Professor Kate Darian-Smith
Board Member / Executive Dean

Professor Kate Darian-Smith is Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Arts, Law and Education at the University of Tasmania, a role she has held since 2018. She is responsible leading five Schools — Humanities; Social Sciences; Creative Arts and Media; Law; and Education — located across multiple campuses.

Kate previously held senior leadership positions at the University of Melbourne, most recently in joint appointments in the Faculty of Arts and the, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. She is a cultural and social historian, with books and other publications on Australian history, memory studies, and cultural heritage. Her research has been supported by numerous ARC grants, including for two current projects.

Kate sits on the Executive of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia; and former service includes the ARC College of Experts; as President, International Australian Studies Association; the Board, Australia-Japan Foundation (DFAT); the Council, Museum of Democracy at Old Parliament House. She has been an advocate for the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative Arts across her career and is recognised for her long-term support of Australian Studies internationally, particularly in Japan and China.

EmailCollege of Arts, Law and EducationThe University of Tasmania
Professor Russell Goulbourne
Board Member / Dean

Professor Russell Goulbourne has been Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne since January 2019.

Prior to this he spent five years as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at King’s College London (2014-18). A specialist in eighteenth-century French literature, Russell studied Modern Languages at Keble College, Oxford, receiving his BA (1996), MSt (1997) and DPhil (2000). He taught in the Department of French at the University of Leeds between 2000 and 2013, being promoted to Professor in 2006 and serving as Head of the Department of French from 2008 to 2011.

EmailFaculty of ArtsThe University of Melbourne
Professor Vanessa Lemm
Board Member / Executive Dean

Professor Vanessa Lemm is a Professor of Philosophy and the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University, Geelong/Melbourne. As the Executive Dean, she is a member of the Deakin University Executive Team, responsible for the strategic direction of the University’s core research, education, and engagement activities. Prior to joining Deakin, she was the inaugural Vice President and Executive Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University in South Australia (2018-21) as well as Head of School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales (2012-2018).

She is an internationally recognized specialist of Nietzsche’s philosophy and of contemporary continental philosophy, as well as editor of Nietzsche-Studien and associated De Gruyter book series, two premier publication venues shaping the field of Nietzsche studies world-wide. Her research investigates the relevance of Nietzsche’s philosophy for contemporary debates in biopolitics, posthumanism and animal studies. She recently published Homo Natura: Nietzsche, Philosophical Anthropology and Biopolitics (EUP 2020) and is the author of 3 monographs, 5 edited volumes and numerous journal articles and book chapters on Nietzsche and contemporary political thought. Her work has been translated into 6 languages.

Vanessa is passionate about creating inclusive research and learning cultures. As the Diversity and Inclusion Champion at UNSW, her team promoted a welcoming and supportive environment where people from all backgrounds and confessions can come together to share their views and concerns about the world. 

She is an energetic and committed advocate for the Humanities and Social Sciences and would assure that DASSH continues to make a significant contribution to public discourse and policy, as well as enhancing the cultural and public life in Australia.

EmailFaculty of Arts and EducationDeakin University
Professor Heather Zwicker
Board Member / Executive Dean

Heather Zwicker is Executive Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of Queensland. She moved to UQ in October 2018 from the University of Alberta, where she served as Vice-Provost and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (2015-2018). She also co-founded BRiC, the Banff Research in Culture residency, in which advanced graduate students, postdocs, and junior professors in the humanities work alongside visual artists and curators at the world-renowned Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

A cultural studies researcher, Heather brings postcolonial and feminist theories to bear on problems such as stereotypes, universities, classrooms, and cities. Key areas of exploration have included nation (especially Northern Ireland), stereotype (in particular, pre-9/11 stereotypes of Irish terrorists), the local (with an emphasis on Edmonton writing), gender, and digital humanities. She holds a PhD from Stanford University (1993) and is the winner of several awards, including a 3M National Teaching Fellowship.

Heather holds a deep conviction that the arts, humanities and social sciences must play a lead role in exploring possibilities, understanding implications, generating partnerships and critiquing outcomes with respect to all of the big questions confronting our society, particularly in the face of seemingly inexorable climate catastrophe and COVID-19.

EmailFaculty of Humanities and Social SciencesThe University of Queensland
Past DASSH Presidents
From 2007
  • Professor Mandy Thomas — President: February 2018–September 2020
  • Professor Anthony McGrew — President: September 2017–February 2018
  • Professor Susan Dodds — President: September 2015–September 2017
  • Professor John Germov— President: September 2013–September 2015
  • Professor Krishna Sen— President: September 2011–September 2013
  • Professor Jennifer Radbourne — President: October 2010–September 2011
  • Professor Gerry Turcotte — President: May 2010–October 2010
  • Professor Anthony Cahalan — President: 2009–May 2010
  • Professor Faith Trent AM FACE— President: 2007–2009

Board Member Sign In

The DASSH Board meets quarterly and members are invited to send comments to

To access Board Meeting documents, please sign in below.

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