The appointment of James Hardiman as our 7th Principal saw the following correspondence sent out to our community in late August by the Chair of the Board.

Dear St Hilda’s Community

I last reached out to you with the news that our Principal, Dr Brenda Holt, had announced her retirement from residential colleges after over 20 years in the sector.  Brenda’s plan is to leave St Hilda’s College after this academic year to work with the charity, State Schools Relief, as Deputy CEO.  Brenda’s PhD, published in 2007, focussed on building aspiration and mobility in low socioeconomic rural students, and this new role will help her put her convictions and studies to good use.  We are delighted for her and look forward to the impact of her appointment. 

As the Chair, I have led a nationwide search for our seventh Principal over the last two months, aided by first a committee appointed by the Board and then ultimately all of the Directors of the Board.  After this extensive search, it is my pleasure to announce that our next Principal will be James Hardiman, our current Dean of Students.

James brings a passion for student equity and diversity and embodies the College’s mission and values well.  Nothing motivates James more than helping young adults reach their potential so that they may go on to create a better world. James is a student of leadership himself, nearing the completion of his MBA.  James joined the St Hilda’s Community in late 2019 as Dean of Students and has had a significant impact on our community since. James’ work in employability and leadership programs, and pastoral care are emulated nationally.  James has lived in various colleges for 15 years in Sydney and Melbourne. Before he arrived at St Hilda’s, James was the Dean of Basser College, UNSW. 

After moving to Melbourne, James faced 6 lockdowns with our students in residence over the last two years due to COVID.  James persevered and led our students through these very difficult years, where his innovations in our student offer inspired students and kept them motivated.  In 2022, students at St Hilda’s rated their overall satisfaction with St Hilda’s 93/100, our highest on record.  This excellent rating also comes with overall academic results higher each semester since James’ arrival.  James will move to the role and Principal’s residence in early December.  In addition to his years of college leadership, James also brings 10 years of industry experience as a senior engineer and manager in the field of nuclear science, medicine and technology. James is married to Julia, an urban designer and together they have two children, Charlie and Jasper.  James’ appointment will enable a seamless transition into the position over the next three months with Brenda.

I will also take this opportunity to report that the Board voted to increase college fees (and college scholarships) by 6% for 2023.  This was a very difficult decision and one that was not taken lightly. While we appreciate this may challenge a number of current students and families, we have worked hard as a Board to respond to and prepare as reasonably as possible for the uncertain economic period ahead, underpinned by a predicted inflation rate of near 8% by the end of the year. This inflationary environment will have obvious impacts on all businesses and the College is unfortunately not immune to these. Despite this, I am pleased that we have approved a rate of fee increase that is below predicted inflation and have also committed to increasing our scholarship funds available to families at the same rate. It remains our commitment to support as many students and families as possible to access the opportunities presented by College life, despite a difficult economic outlook.  

Sincerely yours

David Gilbertson, QC
Chair, St Hilda’s College Board