Eminent Australian Higher Education Leader to Speak at the CCA Annual General Meeting

Eminent Australian higher education leader Professor David Wilmoth (pictured), former Deputy Vice Chancellor at RMIT, will be the guest speaker at the Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual General Meeting (AGM), to be held on Tuesday 22 November.

Professor Wilmoth recently published The Promise of the City: Adventures in Learning Cities and Higher Education (Laneway Press, 2021), described as “a rollicking story of triumphs and failures through a lifetime in urban affairs and education” (Dr Wendy Sarkissian).

As a technocrat in the Whitlam government, David Wilmoth was never an average urban planner. Australia was in desperate need of structural reform to lift opportunities for the disadvantaged. In David’s view, urban strategy had to encompass infrastructure and economic development in a way that reflected the aspirations of the Australian people, not just lay out land uses. This was the only way to create basic change and reduce inequality.

An “anti-planner” of the planning profession, David agitated for change. Propelled by his reserved radicalism and an innate streak of defiance, he joined the social protests of the day: anti-war marches, fighting racism in Redfern’s housing projects and stirring up professional practice.

But then came burnout, the fall of government and the breakdown of relationships. Searching for answers, David crossed the globe to explore his spirituality in Asia, join a New Left group in San Francisco, and complete a PhD at Berkeley, before coming back to metropolitan planning in Sydney. A foray into higher education led to senior leadership roles at RMIT overseeing massive mergers and a financial crisis. But it was in spearheading educational ventures the world over he found the work he most enjoyed: combining education with urban strategy to form powerful learning cities.

“I first met David Wilmoth at University of California, Berkeley, where I was doing my Masters degree in urban planning and David was commencing his PhD. Even then, David had lived a rich professional and personal life, but he has invented and re-invented himself many times since then. Along the way, he has proved himself as one of Australia’s most innovative, energetic and socially committed higher education leaders. I am pleased that he will be able to share his experiences at this year’s CCA AGM,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO.

About Professor David Wilmoth

Emeritus Professor David Wilmoth is the director of Learning Cities International, a company advising on education and urban development. At RMIT, he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor Group Governance, Dean of Environmental Design and Construction and now Emeritus Professor. He is active in the non-profit and university sectors, and chairs academic and museum boards in Australia and Vietnam, including founding project director and start-up CEO of RMIT University Vietnam, now the world’s largest international branch campus. He has been Director, National Urban and Regional Strategy in the Australian Government and Head, Central Policy Division and Head, Planning Division (South) in the NSW Government, as well as a company director, academic and consultant in many countries. He belongs to a number of professional institutes, and holds degrees and certificates in economics, planning and higher education from the Universities of Queensland, Sydney, California at Berkeley, Melbourne and Harvard.

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