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History of the University of Otago, Christchurch

Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo ki Ōtautahi – Tāhūhū kōrero

History of the Christchurch campus

The University of Otago, Christchurch (UOC) 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 the UOC has developed a reputation for the quality of the undergraduate training, and is now offering a wide range of postgraduate programmes.

Timeline 1850–2022

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