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Dr Kate Wynn-Williams retires after 27 years at the Otago Business School

Wednesday 27 October 2021 11:11am

Dr Kate Wynn-Williams image
Dr Kate Wynn-Williams

Best known for her down-to-earth attitude and consistent helpfulness, Dr Kate Wynn-Williams is retiring from the University after 27 years at the Otago Business School.

Having practically grown up at Otago, Dr Wynn-Williams’ journey at the University began when she was just 19, as she moved from the USA to New Zealand with her brother and father, after her dad became the new Dean of the School of Dentistry in February 1972.

At that time, the University was comparatively small, with around 8000 students, and Dr Wynn-Williams spent the next three years getting a BA in Philosophy.

After graduating, she decided to study nursing at Dunedin Hospital.

“In those days it was all public training and so we became a part of the paid workforce, learning in a very hands-on manner, with a few weeks in class and then starting to work in the wards,” Dr Wynn-Williams says.

Working part-time and night shifts in the hospital worked well for Dr Wynn-Williams, as this gave her the time she needed to care for her young son.

As her son got older, she felt the desire to return to university and her husband suggested she try something entirely different to what she had done before, rather than returning to topics she had explored previously.

This idea excited her because the learning pathways she grew up with at high school were oftentimes limited.

“I often remind myself that at the end of the day the University is here for the students and so I’m glad to have been part of projects that have actually helped support them, even if it’s making something small a bit more streamlined.”

With newfound inspiration, she started two new adventures, one being the study of economics and the other being the birth of her second child.

“I would often find myself up at 3am to feed the baby and so I would spend that time scanning over textbooks in order to squeeze in some study time as well,” Dr Wynn-Williams says.

She mentions how grateful she was to the University creche for taking care of her daughter while she attended lectures.

After completing her BCom in Accounting, she received a scholarship to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Commerce, which she pursued and it ultimately landed her another scholarship to start her PhD.

Taking this journey made her one of the few people who have completed a PhD without having done a master's or Honours year.

It was 1994 and two-years into her PhD study when she officially started working for the University as a teacher, an ironic twist in the tale since both her parents and grandparents were teachers and it was something she swore she would never do.

As the years went on, her position at the University evolved and she ended up working on a variety of projects for different departments, even becoming the Head of the Department of Accountancy and Business Law (as it was then) and the Associate Dean Academic for five years.

Some highlights included being part of the team that developed the School’s first core papers and helping the School attain accreditation. More recently, she has been involved with establishing partnership arrangements for international students and assisting with the review of postgraduate regulations in the School.

“I have been most proud to work with such great teams over the years,” says Dr Wynn-Williams.

“I often remind myself that at the end of the day the University is here for the students and so I’m glad to have been part of projects that have actually helped support them, even if it’s making something small a bit more streamlined.

“The University has been a good working home to me and I’ve really enjoyed working here.”

Commenting on her retirement, Professor Robin Gauld, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Commerce, and Dean of Otago Business School, made special mention of Dr Wynn-Williams’ consistent work ethic and wealth of knowledge.

“Kate has provided this school with never-ending support over the decades she has been here, truly leaving her mark not only at the Business School, but within the entire University.

“She built a very successful career as a passionate teacher and mentor to numerous accountancy students, completed a range of research projects and went on to serve as Associate Dean Academic providing significant service to the Business School and University in a demanding role.

“From 2017, she has continued to assist us with our international activities and partnerships. She will truly be missed with her many years of knowledge that will no doubt be impossible to replace.

“We wish you the absolute best with your retirement, as you enter into the next adventure life has for you.” 

Kōrero by Kelsey Schutte, Business School Communications Adviser