New chancellor cites university's importance

Royden Somerville
Royden Somerville

The University of Otago's new chancellor says he is aware of the importance of the institution to both Dunedin and New Zealand.

It was announced yesterday the university council had selected Dr Royden Somerville QC to replace current chancellor John Ward, in January.

Dr Somerville (69) is a Queen's Counsel based in Dunedin who specialises in public and environmental law.

The chancellor chairs the university council and also confers degrees and diplomas at university graduation ceremonies. The job also involves ceremonial and ambassadorial roles for the university.

Dr Somerville said he was very honoured by the appointment.

``I am very aware of the university's importance, not only for Dunedin and the other centres where it is located but also for the country and internationally,'' he said.

His association with the university started as a law student and he later became a lecturer in environmental law.

The university's pro-chancellor, he joined the university council in 2010 and became a ministerial appointee in 2012.

He also served as chairman of the Council of Knox and Salmond College and is a fellow of Knox College

Dr Somerville acknowledged the significant contribution Mr Ward had made during his 15 years as chancellor.

``The university had greatly benefited from Mr Ward's expertise in accounting, business and banking.''

``He has been a fine ambassador.''

Mr Ward retires from the university council on December 31.

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