23rd May 2023
The Centre for Western Sydney’s status as a leading source of research and advocacy on its region will continue to grow following the appointment of its new Director, Dr Rhonda Itaoui, who will commence in July 2023. Professor Andy Marks will continue with the Centre as Executive Director, as well as Western Sydney University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Strategy, Government and Alliances, and Chief Executive Officer of the NUW Alliance.
Professor Marks congratulated Dr Itaoui on her appointment which comes at a critical time as Western Sydney is challenged by profound housing issues, major infrastructure developments, and rapid population growth, alongside increasing cost-of-living pressures.
“Rhonda is a talented researcher and a leading authority on our region,” said Professor Marks.
“Through her leadership, the Centre will maintain its focus on addressing the important issues affecting our community, while also remaining future focused.”
Dr Itaoui recognises that Western Sydney’s true strength lies in the vibrancy of its communities.
“Our people are predominately young, culturally diverse, and committed to education – however we also face significant levels of disadvantage and are disproportionately affected by inequitable investment in essential infrastructure,” said Dr Itaoui.
“As Director of the Centre for Western Sydney, I will be focused on providing a platform for community voices and on working with researchers, industry, and government to ensure that policies meet our communities' needs and drive our region's success.”
Dr Itaoui is a social researcher with a PhD and first-class honours in human geography and global expertise in the geographies of diversity and multiculturalism. She was first appointed as the Centre’s inaugural Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2021 and in 2023 was the lead researcher and author of the Centre’s flagship ‘State of the Arts in Western Sydney’ report.
Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover AO, has also welcomed the appointment and extended his congratulations to Dr Itaoui and Professor Marks.
“Dr Itaoui has achieved a great deal in her research career and should be commended for her contributions to academia, and to the broader community. Rhonda’s work transcends the usual metrics for research impact because she operates on a ‘community-first’ model where the needs and aspirations of the people are central to her research goals,” said Professor Glover.
“Under Professor Marks’ leadership, the Centre for Western Sydney has exceeded expectations and is a leading authority on our region, delivering impactful policy and planning outcomes for the community.”
Professor Glover marked Dr Itaoui’s appointment by announcing the continuation of the ‘Vice-Chancellor’s Centre for Western Sydney Fellowship Fund’ in 2023.
Expressions of interest will soon open for the $30,000 Fellowship Fund, which was introduced in 2022 as a strategic initiative to further the work of Western Sydney University researchers whose projects focus on addressing issues of critical importance in Western Sydney.