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Tēnā koutou and welcome to this year’s second instalment of the Otago Connection newsletter

Thursday, 21 September 2017 3:46pm

VC portrait image
Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne

The start of September is an invigorating time of year - the weather begins to warm up, the sun sets later in the evening, and the students have returned from their mid-semester break with renewed energy, ready to settle back into their classes. Our magnolia tree, always the official sign of spring for us here at the University of Otago, is blooming beautifully in the Quad.

In my time as Vice-Chancellor, I have always found mid-year to be a time to reflect on the progress we have made as a university and to celebrate the achievements of our students. This newsletter contains some of the highlights of our collective success both here in New Zealand and overseas.

In July, we profiled 25 outstanding students out of the hundreds who received undergraduate scholarships in 2017. Many of these students made the brave decision to come to Otago even though they lived far from Dunedin and may never have visited before. It makes me very proud that they chose our university because Otago’s residential colleges have the reputation of being familial and supportive communities.

We covered a range of stories focusing on our residential colleges over the past few months, and I hope that you will enjoy reading them. As a parent of two young adults, it’s incredibly important to me to assure you that our students receive outstanding pastoral support at our residential colleges. In return, we expect students to step out of their comfort zone, study hard, and push themselves to be their very best. The students profiled in this newsletter are great examples of how students are meeting those expectations.

Two examples of groups of Otago students achieving international success this year are our rowers and students from Computer Science. I was thrilled to celebrate the Otago University Rowing Club’s Women’s and Men’s Eights teams in August, who won first place in their respective races in China’s International Universities Rowing regatta. We also had a trio of Computer Science students compete in the World’s Challenge Challenge in London, Ontario, Canada presenting their innovative solution to closing the gap in world digital literacy. Their success is another hallmark of the depth of talent within our student community. We know that this high level of commitment to extra-curricular or co-curricular activity is a key feature in predicting success following graduation.

As a university community, we feel very honoured each and every day to play a part in helping our students to become outstanding, considerate, and responsible members of the wider Dunedin community, just as they undoubtedly are in their home communities. I have been enjoying recognising their accomplishments. I am confident that our students have created great memories of their first semester at Otago, and we all look forward to helping them create even better ones moving forward.

I hope you enjoy browsing through the Connection newsletter and learning more about the home our newer students are making at Otago.

I look forward to sharing more stories with you later in the year. As always, we welcome your feedback and ideas: otagoconnect@otago.ac.nz