Charles Sturt University has revealed recruitment will soon take place for a new vice-chancellor to cover for Professor Andrew Vann when he starts a six-month sabbatical next week.
The announcement came in the wake of job cut announcements this week, that will see up to 110 full-time equivalent positions cut and up to 600 subjects axed from the course listing.
Professor Vann had commenced leave from this week, with a university spokesperson confirming the period will be extended six months from Monday.
However, the spokesperson has said the leave does not have any bearing on the ongoing job cuts situation.
"This sabbatical and leave was agreed prior to the COVID-19 outbreak," the spokesperson said.
"As previously communicated, the university council has also commenced recruitment for the university's next vice-chancellor."
Professor John Germov has commenced the acting role from this week and spoke to The Daily Advertiser on Thursday about Professor Vann's leave.
"He's taken some leave, he hasn't had a break for quite a long time and he's been working very hard particularly leading us through COVID and setting up our response to the budget remediation," Professor Germov said.
"He's decided with the approval of our university council to take some leave, and you can't blame him for that."
Asked about the timing of the leave, which took place the same week that further information on the job losses was revealed, Professor Germov said "There's never a good time".
"The university is managed by a very highly skilled executive team and the council has confidence in us to be able to carry forward the plan that was agreed under Andy's leadership," he said.
In the wake of the job cuts announcement, National Tertiary Education Union president at Wagga, Dr Helen Masterman-Smith said the vice-chancellor's leave had "raised questions".
"We had heard a few weeks ago that the vice chancellor would not renew his contract at the end of next year," she said.
"But it was a surprise that he was not at the town hall meetings on Wednesday when the first round of job cuts was announced."
The following day, Dr Masterman-Smith said, they were informed of the leave.
"We don't know the reason [...] but this is a crucial time - perhaps the most crucial time in the uni's recent history - for the vice chancellor to not be onboard steering the ship, feilding questions. It's irregular," Dr Masterman-Smith said.