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Otago selects next School of Physiotherapy Dean

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Leigh Hale image
Professor Leigh Hale

The University of Otago has selected Professor Leigh Hale as the next Dean of its School of Physiotherapy.

Professor Hale has a strong background in the clinical, teaching and research aspects of physiotherapy and is currently Deputy Dean of the School. Her previous roles at the School include Associate Dean of Research. She will start in her new position in mid-July.

An academic physiotherapist for more than 25 years, her research primarily focuses on clinical neurorehabilitation with interests that include fall prevention, stroke rehabilitation, as well as exercise and physical activity in people with long-term debilitating conditions.

Announcing the deanship appointment, which was made after an international search, University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said that Professor Hale is an excellent selection for the position.

“Leigh Hale is a distinguished academic and widely respected professional in physiotherapy who possesses strong leadership qualities. I am very pleased that she is taking up this important role,” Professor Hayne says.

After seven years working as a clinical physiotherapist, Professor Hale moved into academia as a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. While at that University she gained her MSc and PhD degrees and was promoted to senior lecturer. She moved to New Zealand in 2000 to join the University of Otago’s School of Physiotherapy.

Professor Hale has been Editor of the New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy since 2010 and is a Fellow of the New Zealand College of Physiotherapy. She has been involved a number of international collaborations with researchers in countries including Australia, the UK, US, and South Africa.

Her research programmes have attracted several million dollars in external funding from bodies including ACC and the Health Research Council. She has had nearly 100 peer-reviewed research articles published and has supervised nearly two dozen PhD students.

Professor Hale says she is delighted and honoured to be appointed Dean of the School of Physiotherapy.

“Our School is not only one of the oldest physiotherapy schools in the world—it celebrated its centennial in 2013—it is also internationally renowned for the excellence of its research and graduates.”

Professor Hale says she is looking forward to further growing the international research reputation of the School’s Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research.

“I also aim to ensure our curriculum is innovative and progressive, so our graduates can confidently and competently play their part in addressing the future health needs of New Zealand and beyond.”

She says she is passionate about physiotherapy and the role it can play in improving the health and life quality of those living with long-term conditions and disabilities, as well as enabling quality healthy ageing.

“As the prevalence of long-term conditions rises and the percentage of older adults living with disability increases, our physiotherapy services will increasingly be required. I have worked in many areas of the profession—clinical, teaching, and research—and so I look forward to the opportunities provided by this position that allow me to contribute in a new role to both the profession and the community.”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) Professor Peter Crampton says he is delighted that Professor Hale will be moving into the Dean’s role for a key part of the Health Sciences Division.

“Professor Hale is very well-placed to lead the School of Physiotherapy in its continuing pursuit of excellence in learning and teaching, in research, and in clinical practice. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the outgoing Dean, Professor David Baxter, for his decade of exemplary leadership in the role.”

For more information, contact:

Professor Leigh Hale
School of Physiotherapy
University of Otago
Tel 03 479 5425
Email leigh.hale@otago.ac.nz

About the School of Physiotherapy

The School operates over the University’s three main campuses (Dunedin, Wellington and Christchurch) as well as in a number of hubs (such as Invercargill, Timaru, Palmerston North and Hawke’s Bay). In these areas clinical placements are provided for students (2nd, 3rd, 4th years, postgraduates) either via the School’s own clinics, private practices, the district health boards, and other health service organisations.

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