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Inaugural Director of First-Year Experience appointed

Friday, 27 November 2015 8:37pm

Stephen Scott image lg
As the new Director of First-Year Experience, Dr Stephen Scott’s goal will be to enhance the transition of students from school to the University, so as to optimise their chance of success in a new learning environment.

Dr Stephen Scott’s career at the University has taken a further step away from a fish focus to a student focus with his appointment to the new position of Director of First-Year Experience.

Dr Scott, who is currently Associate Dean (Māori) in the Division of Sciences, is a zoologist by training who began his career at the University studying snapper reproduction before undertaking a PhD on stress response in trout.

Nowadays he presents and publishes research on the first-year experience at a national and international level and has had a significant input to academic orientation activities at the University.

The Director of First-Year Experience’s goal is to enhance the transition of students from school to the University, so as to optimise their chance of success in a new learning environment.

"Dr Scott is very well-placed to take on this task given his extensive experience in student-focused roles throughout his career at the University."

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Vernon Squire says that Dr Scott will work to consolidate and streamline a number of existing initiatives at Otago that focus on supporting first-year students.

Professor Squire says the University’s aim is to ensure the first-year experience of both domestic and international students enrolled at the University is second-to-none and provides them with every opportunity for academic success and extra-curricular achievement.

As Director, Dr Scott will also develop and advance an overarching strategy for the new First-Year Experience Programme.

“Dr Scott is very well-placed to take on this task given his extensive experience in student-focused roles throughout his career at the University. Over the past nine years he has had a particular focus on the first-year experience of Māori and Pacific students and those not living in residential colleges,” Professor Squire says.

Dr Scott was a driving force behind the University’s Locals Programme, which supports students living in the local Dunedin community—those living at home, flatting or boarding—during their first year of study, and he has been the nominal Director of the programme while working at the Division of Sciences.

As part of this new role Dr Scott will continue his close association with the Locals Programme, now formally overseeing the initiative and supervising its staff.

A new First-Year Experience Committee (FYEC) covering both academic and social themes will be established to support Dr Scott’s programme of work.

Dr Scott says he is very happy to be appointed to the position.

“It is always great to see students achieve and this role will enable me to work with people who have a passion to support first-year student achievement and to promulgate best practice across the University to ensure all first-year students have access to the best support during their transition to university study.”

Dr Scott takes up the Director role at the beginning of 2016.