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Prior to joining Monash, Professor Gardner was Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT from April 2005 until August 2014. She has extensive academic experience, having held various leadership positions in Australian universities throughout her career, including at the University of Queensland and Griffith University.
Armed with a first class honours degree in Economics and a PhD from the University of Sydney, in 1988 she was a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow spending time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Professor Gardner is Chair of Universities Australia and a Director of the Group of Eight Universities. She is also a Director of Infrastructure Victoria and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), and was recently made a member of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Inclusion and Diversity Committee.
Professor Gardner has previously been chair of Museum Victoria and chaired the Strategic Advisory Committee and the Expert Panel of the Office of Learning and Teaching (Federal Government Department of Education and Training). She has also been a member of various other boards and committees, including the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, the ANZAC Centenary Advisory Board and the International Education Advisory Committee, which led to the Chaney Report.
In 2007, Professor Gardner was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to tertiary education, particularly in the areas of university governance and gender equity, and to industrial relations in Queensland.