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Uplifting return to business school for alumni

Wednesday 15 January 2020 3:07pm

Alumni1 OBS Image 2
Reliving their University days at Otago Business School with Chancellor Dr Royden Somerville, are Les Green, Frank Stent, Huia Ockwell, Garry Heaton and Bill Dawson.

It was with a sense of pride and a tinge of envy that five former commerce students and staff visited Otago Business School in December; most having graduated more than 50 years ago.

The all-now-retired commerce alumni Bill Dawson, Les Green, Frank Stent and Huia Ockwell, and former lecturer Garry Heaton accepted an invitation from Chancellor Dr Royden Somerville QC to visit the award-winning Otago Business School.

While some of the group had seen the former commerce building – that opened in 1992 and was known for its original, but somewhat impractical design – none had visited the refurbished building, opened in 2017.

For Mr Dawson, who studied between 1951 and 1957, today’s success of the Otago BCom was more than satisfying.

“To actually see that we are still producing the best commerce students in New Zealand by far is special. I’m very grateful and at the same time amazed.

“There were some people who didn’t believe we (commerce) should be here. They thought we should be at polytech. It was very political.”

Mr Ockwell, who graduated in 1959, agreed. He said in the 1950s, commerce was considered by “the rest of the University as the runt”.

“It’s very uplifting being here and hearing about the successes.”

The group reminisced about their study days – which started at 7:45am so they could catch the tram to work afterwards – and their times on the rugby field and in halls of residence.

“So much has changed, but then of course, some things never change,” Mr Ockwell said.

Dr Somerville said he initiated the gathering after a discussion with Mr Ockwell.

“Huia mentioned that there was some interest in being shown through the building and I am very pleased to be able to make that happen.

“Members of the group have made a significant and selfless contribution to their community over many years. It was a real pleasure accompanying the informative and welcoming tour of the superb business school building by Amanda Mabon, the Executive Assistant to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of commerce.”