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"I feel I know just how important this university is to New Zealand and I'm passionate about that. I won't find it hard to be an ambassador."
Associate Prof Gerrard (63), associate dean of the Dunedin School of Medicine and associate professor of sports, has been appointed director of development and alumni relations.
He will take up the three-year secondment at the beginning of next year, replacing Dr Clive Matthewson, who is retiring.
Prof Gerrard has been on the university's staff since 1981.
He was physician in charge of student health services for 12 years, before lecturing in sport and exercise medicine and moving back into the medical school role.
He said yesterday relocating to his new office in the clocktower building would be a return to his old haunts.
"I'm completing the loop really. I'm going back to the clocktower where student health was located [in the 1980s]."
Dr Matthewson was appointed in 2002 as the university's first director of development and alumni relations.
One of his major successes was raising more than $25 million from corporates, community organisations and individuals for the Leading Thinkers initiative, an amount matched by the Government.
Prof Gerrard said he had been given no fundraising targets to meet during his appointment.
"I told them at my interview that if they wanted a fundraiser I was not the man for the job."
Instead, he said he saw his contribution as building on the extensive networks he had made through his professional and personal interests, and continuing Dr Matthewson's "excellent stewardship".
"I've been privileged to have met a number of very influential and interesting people over the years and that experience will serve me well."
University vice-chancellor Prof David Skegg said Prof Gerrard was selected following a worldwide search.
"[He] is an outstanding person and his contribution to international sports medicine, the university and the wider community over the past decades is deeply valued," Prof Skegg said.