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History of the Christchurch campus

The University of Otago, Christchurch is part of the Division of Health Sciences, within the University of Otago. The history of the School reaches back to the 1850s when the Canterbury Association included the vision of a School of Medicine in plans for the new settlement.

The University of Otago, Christchurch was formally established in 1973 as part of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Otago, to provide training across all three clinical years of the undergraduate medical course.

Over the last 36 years our campus has developed a reputation for the quality of the undergraduate training, and is now offering a wide range of postgraduate programmes across a wide range of health disciplines.

Timeline 1850–2023

1850Canterbury Association proposes Medical school in Canterbury
1875Dunedin Medical School opens
1876Proclamation in Gazette declared null and void because of a technical point.
1879Government declares inability to provide finance
1923Otago lengthens its undergraduate course from 5 to 6 years.
1924A trial class of students is sent to Christchurch Hospital
1926Final year class formally sent to Christchurch
1927Classes now sent to Wellington and Auckland
1937Joint hospital/university committees appointed to the four centres.
1960Dr Don Beaven appointed full-time teaching and research
1966Auckland Medical School approved
1968External review of Otago Medical School suggests a Christchurch School
1968–1970Debate continues over size and composition of the school
1970University agrees to build and equip "Medical Centre"
Architects provide design report
1971Excavation of foundations starts
Professor George Rolleston appointed first Dean
Contract let to Fletcher construction
1972University of Otago, Christchurch established
1973Construction complete, first 4th year intake arrives
Official opening
1981Professor George Rolleston retires as Dean
1982Professor John Hunter appointed as Dean
1986Professor Alan Clarke appointed Dean
1988Number of postgraduate students exceeds medical students
1994Professor Andrew Hornblow appointed Dean
1997Problem-based learning succeeds 4th year Clinical Sciences course
1998Final stage of building realised after 25 years.
2000Number of postgraduate students now reaches 700
2002Professor Ian Town appointed as Dean
2005Professor Peter Joyce appointed as Dean
2007Name changed to University of Otago, Christchurch
2016Professor David Murdoch appointed as Dean
2021University of Otago council approves new campus development
2022Professor Suzanne Pitama appointed as Dean
2023University of Otago, Christchurch's 50th anniversary
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