Uni’s search for new vice-chancellor begins

The search for a new University of Otago vice-chancellor has officially begun as advertisements for the job went online yesterday.

The university is seeking someone who "will be committed to the vision, mission and values of the university and be a determined, courageous and inspirational servant leader of high intellectual standing, ideally obtained through experience in an academic environment".

Prof David Murdoch resigned as vice-chancellor on June 14, after being on sick leave since March.

He was appointed in February last year, succeeding Prof Harlene Hayne, who stepped down after 10 years in the role.

Prof Helen Nicholson has been acting vice-chancellor since March.

The university has employed international recruitment firm Perrett Laver to help undertake the global search.

It comes at a difficult time for the university, which is facing financial troubles and trying to make savings through a variety of restructuring proposals.

Politics lecturer Associate Prof Brian Roper said he would like the new vice-chancellor to be aware of the scholarly literature around neoliberalism, particularly when it came to public management.

"One of the problems with vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne was the fact she went ahead with the shared services review against the advice of staff.

"Rather than creating a lean, mean, efficient system, it actually increased costs."

He would also like them to commit to the idea of the university being a critic and conscience of society, and have a clear conception of tertiary education as a public good.

He hoped they would respond to the university’s financial situation by working with staff rather than implementing "austerity measures".

Otago University Students’ Association president Quintin Jane wanted the next vice-chancellor to be student-focused, committed to advancing the goal of being Treaty of Waitangi-led and ensuring the financial situation did not affect staff or students adversely.

As part of the process, a staff advisory group will be appointed with a mix of academic, professional, Māori and Pacific representatives, led by an independent chair.

They will meet and engage with all shortlisted candidates and report to the selection panel and university council.

Applications close on October 20.