Science of wolf jokes

Emeritus Prof Michael Davison discusses the early history of the University of Otago psychology department yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Emeritus Prof Michael Davison discusses the early history of the University of Otago psychology department yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Dunedin is where Emeritus Prof Michael Davison learned how to keep wolves at bay at night, he joked yesterday.

It is also where the internationally-respected researcher undertook his PhD study.

Coming to the city, he found good humour in the young Otago psychology department, including some jokes for new arrivals.

Prof Davison recalled being advised to keep his windows closed at night, to keep the wolves out.

British-born, he became the first person to gain an Otago University psychology degree, in 1968.

The Otago department was established in 1964, and more than 200 people have subsequently gained Otago PhDs in psychology.

The Otago department was ranked as the 19th highest-performing psychology department in the world, in recent QS quality rankings.

Long based at Auckland University, Prof Davison gave a talk on the Otago department's history, at a research symposium at the Otago Museum yesterday, celebrating the department's 50th anniversary.

Prof Davison recalled arriving at Otago on a Commonwealth Scholarship, to undertake PhD study.

The department's experimental strengths had early been nurtured by Prof Stephen Griew, a gerontologist from the University of Bristol, who was Otago's first professor of psychology.

Departmental head Prof Mike Colombo and a former head, Emeritus Prof Geoff White, also reflected on the department's warm collegiality, and more of those jokes.

Another new academic from abroad had been advised to always haggle vigorously over fruit and vegetable prices at city supermarkets, the symposium heard.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz