Praise for Richardson panel

New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women Otago branch projects group members Dr Vanessa Ward (left) and Dr Coralie Daniel reflect on a newly installed information panel devoted to Sir John Richardson, a pioneering advocate of higher education for women. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women Otago branch projects group members Dr Vanessa Ward (left) and Dr Coralie Daniel reflect on a newly installed information panel devoted to Sir John Richardson, a pioneering advocate of higher education for women. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

A collaborative initiative is shedding fresh light on Sir John Richardson, a visionary advocate of education for women, and for whom the University of Otago's Richardson Building is named.

The Otago branch of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women and the university have joined forces to create and install a new informative panel in the building, describing the life and influence of Sir John (1810-78).

An early Otago University chancellor, he was a keen advocate of higher education for women.

He was ''largely responsible'' for the decision of the University Council in 1871 to accept a women's petition for admission to the university's classes, the panel says.

''Otago was the first university in the southern hemisphere to grant women full admission,'' it says.

Sir John was also an early supporter of Otago Boys' High School and of a campaign to establish Otago Girls' High School.

He is also commemorated by a Richardson Scholarship for senior students in humanitiesThe plaque was unveiled at a function last week attended by about 25 people.

Federation Otago branch president Sue Cathro said branch members had been keen to help provide more information about Sir John, and the branch had provided financial support for the project.

Mrs Cathro also praised the help of university registrar Jan Flood, and Sue Larkins, manager of strategy and planning at the university's Property Services, in completing the project successfully.

Dr Vanessa Ward and Dr Coralie Daniel, both members of the branch's projects group, were also pleased with the outcome.

Ms Larkins said the project had been a ''wonderful initiative'' by the Otago branch and she would like to see more of that kind of information in other places at the university, adding to the sense of a ''creative and lively campus''.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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