Efforts in wake of student death prompt honour

Prof Harlene Hayne was the University of Otago’s first female vice-chancellor. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Prof Harlene Hayne was the University of Otago’s first female vice-chancellor. PHOTO: ODT FILES


For services to health and wellbeing

Her efforts to ensure positive change came out of a terrible tragedy have resulted in a former University of Otago vice-chancellor being made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Prof Harlene Hayne led the university for a decade after becoming its first female vice-chancellor in 2011.

Following the tragic death of student Sophia Crestani at a Dunedin flat party in 2019, Prof Hayne worked with the Otago University Students’ Association, Dunedin City Council, police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the Otago Property Investors Association to establish the Sophia Charter in 2020 to enhance student wellbeing and safety in north Dunedin.

She left the university in April to take on the role of vice-chancellor at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia

Prof Hayne said she was humbled to receive the award.

"It is an incredible honour to be recognised in this way for simply doing the right thing, in helping Sophia’s parents achieve their goal of making a vibrant student community safer.

"I admire their incredible grace and bravery in the wake of any parent’s worst nightmare and it was a privilege to walk alongside them in laying the foundations through Sophia’s Charter for a collaborative effort to foster a more supportive, inclusive and safe environment for students."

Prof Hayne formerly chaired Universities New Zealand, the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors Committee and the Universities New Zealand Research Committee.

She was president of the International Society of Developmental Psychobiology in 2010, having been a board member since 2001.

Prof Hayne chaired Fulbright New Zealand from 2013 to 2019.

She was also made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year Honours.





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