A Professor of Law who grew up in Alaska and speaks Japanese has been appointed as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Community and Engagement) at The University of Western Australia.

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Professor Kent Anderson will lead UWA's engagement with the wider community to reinforce the University's commitment to excellence.

Professor Anderson has an eclectic background.  He spent his childhood in Alaska before studying in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, specialising in Law, Politics, Economics, and Asian Studies.  Before academia, Professor Anderson was a commercial lawyer in Hawaii and an airline executive in marketing.

He has been a visiting professor at Waseda, Nagoya, Kyushu, Doshisha, Ritsumeikan and Chuo Universities in Japan and most recently held the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Adelaide and Professor of Law in the Adelaide Law School.

UWA Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson said Professor Anderson would play a vital role at UWA.

"Typically, Australian universities have not strategically developed their engagement with communities but we are addressing that," Professor Johnson said.

"Professor Anderson brings with him a strong expertise in the Indo-Pacific zone, a region so important to Western Australia and particularly this University.

"Our engagement with the wider community locally, nationally and internationally is already in sharp focus with activities such as the Perth International Arts Festival and the In The Zone conference.  This engagement, led by Professor Anderson, will help position the University to achieve its ambition of becoming one of the world's top 50 universities by 2050," Professor Johnson said.

Professor Anderson said he was looking forward to joining the University community.

"I grew up in Alaska - which, like WA, is geographically large and driven by the resource sector.  I'm very excited about the move; it feels like I'm coming home," he said.

"I look forward to making a difference and to becoming a member of both the University community and the community of Perth."

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