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Associate Professor Whiting retires after 31 years at Otago, having served the University in many capacities across her long career.

Interacting with, mentoring and advising students has been a highlight of Associate Professor Whiting’s career, and she has very much enjoyed “watching them move into many and varied careers, where they underpin businesses and the public sector, as well as make significant pro-bono contributions to the not-for-profit sector”.

Head of the Department of Accountancy and Finance, Associate Professor Whiting has retired after 31 years at Otago, where she completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry, and later, spurred on by a strong interest in business undertook postgraduate qualifications in Commerce, including a PhD.

“Ros has been an extremely committed colleague who has served and worked tirelessly for the benefit of students, staff and the University of Otago over the course of an outstanding career,” said Maree Thyne, Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor of Commerce.

Highly respected, she received a University of Otago Teaching Excellence award in 2014, was appointed Associate Professor in 2017 and Head of Department in 2019.

She has published extensively and says much of her research has been focused on “gender and equity issues in accountancy, including my recent paper on pioneer women accountants”. She is finishing up her research commitments and has a paper under review on the first Māori Chartered Accountant, which she notes is a continuation of her interests in history and disadvantaged groups.

Her notable contributions outside the University also illustrate her commitment to social capital. In 2009 she was one of the initial committee members of Dunedin Community Accounting, a free service delivered by volunteer senior accountancy students from the University of Otago, under the supervision of volunteer Chartered Accountants.

‘‘It’s based on the Law Centre model and helps teach community group treasurers how to keep their accounts effectively, plus the students get real-life experience with clients,” she said.

She has also been involved with School of Business Internship programme and received a Fellowship (peer award for service to the profession) from Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand in 2018.

Associate Professor Whiting said it was important for academics to “treasure and support relationships with colleagues and students and learn from them”. She recalled her early academic career and being then a solo parent with a young child, when a young male colleague offered to take on some tutorials that were scheduled after school hours.

“I was incredibly grateful for his generosity and flexibility, and I was able to do the same for others once my children were older.”

Originally from Taranaki, and raised in Eltham and New Plymouth, she is one of six children (all of whom were tertiary educated), whose parents had not gone to university. She has three adult children and will travel to Scotland soon to visit her daughter and grandchildren and plans to “devote more time to other relationships that have been a bit neglected while being so busy with work and family over the last 30 years”.

She said that many things had changed over the course of her academic career, both in the education system and the accountancy profession, but the most important elements for a healthy and productive university were “the passing on of knowledge, stimulating learning and a culture of collaboration and caring”.

- Kōrero by Communications Adviser, Sally Knox

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