Friday, 7 March 2014 11:16am
An abiding love for the University of Otago, Dunedin and the South Island has drawn an American intelligence and security expert across the globe for more than 20 years.
Emeritus Professor Stan Taylor, of Brigham Young University in Utah, first visited Dunedin as a Fulbright Professor in 1993.
His most recent visit was to teach a second-year Summer School paper on US Intelligence and National Security.
It’s a topic hot on many people’s lips at present, after the revelations of former US contractor Edward Snowden. Prof Taylor is in a unique place to comment, as he helped draft the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 when he was a consultant and staff member on the first senate committee to oversee the then-13 US intelligence organisations.
He has just completed a chapter on “Counter-intelligence and Edward Snowden” for a book looking at US intelligence, and continues to work with the centre he helped found at Brigham Young University – the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies.
Despite his busy schedule, Prof Taylor and his wife leapt at the chance to come to teach at Otago.
“I’d never heard of Otago when I first came here. But I love it. I like the people, I like the climate – and it’s a vacation for my wife.”
The pair stay at Abbey College, Otago’s residential college for postgraduate students, when they come to Dunedin and declare it one of the main reasons they have returned annually for the past five years.
“It’s just so easy. They prepare three meals a day for us, and clean our room once a week. And it’s a stone’s throw from the Botanic Garden, which is one of our favourite places in the South Island.”
They love their interactions with the students who live at Abbey. “They talk fast but those that are willing to slow down and talk to us, we have wonderful conversations with.”
He also enjoys the other visiting researchers who utilise Abbey: “Recently we had the Dean of the Law School of Charles University, of Prague – one of the oldest university’s in the world; a Japanese American lawyer from DC; and an expat Brit who was teaching in Japan. It was like a graduate seminar every morning at breakfast.”
“I’ve been invited and taught elsewhere in the world, but we weren’t as well looked after. I wouldn’t go back – I love Otago.”