Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker is full of
ideas after returning from a month-long trip to North America.
Mr Ker was in North America from August 29 to September 28
and spent most of his time at Olds College in Alberta,
Canada. He also spent time at other institutions in Canada
and the United States.
Speaking in a report tabled at Otago Polytechnic's council
meeting yesterday, Mr Ker said he gained significant insights
into how Olds College established itself as a high-performing
"My overall purpose at Olds College was to consciously
reflect on the operations, practices and performance of Otago
Polytechnic by observing and discussing how another
high-performing institution went about its business."
Among areas where he got inspiration was that of applied
The key lessons he learnt in this area were that if Otago
Polytechnic was to develop a successful applied research
business, it needed to ensure research was "industry driven,
not just staff interest driven", it needed to narrow its
focus to what it "can be good at", and "hire specialists to
anchor our research initiatives".
He said he was grateful to the council for giving him the
opportunity to go on the trip"This was my first significant
break in eight years from my chief executive responsibilities
at Otago Polytechnic and gave me the time and distance to
reflect deeply on where Otago Polytechnic is at and options
for the future."
Other ideas inspired by the trip included the possibility of
setting up a micro brewing and brewery management course and
courses in GPS technology.