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Associate Deans welcomed, farewelled

Tuesday 15 June 2021 5:23pm

The Division of Humanities this month acknowledged the outstanding service several outgoing Associate Deans have given in recent years, and welcome new Associate Deans International, Academic and Pacific roles.

Associate Dean Academic

Nicola Cummins (right), a Teaching Fellow in English and Linguistics, will be Associate Dean (Academic) for one year while Associate Professor Simone AD-Cummins-226Marshall is on RSL.

As Associate Dean Academic Nicola will provide leadership on matters related to undergraduate programmes and high-level academic oversight of all the Division’s academic programmes. She will also work closely with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and with the Associate Deans (Academic) in the other Divisions.

Nicola has enjoyed membership of the Division’s Academic Committee which instigated the BASc, the coursework MA and the Divisional Teaching and Learning Day. She is standing in as Associate Dean’s representative on the Student Advising Working Group and says this, and involvement with the Foundation Studies programme, has furthered an interest in transition pedagogy.

Other outreach activities include organising the Medical Selectives programme, the Catch-Up Book Club run in conjunction with the University Book Shop, inaugurating the university-wide writing competition and serving as a Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival Board trustee.

“I have been at Otago since 1994 so feel very connected to the people who comprise it, and know who to go to for expertise and help when needed. I am looking forward to learning more about the wider workings of the Division and the University and bringing that knowledge back to benefit my programme when the Associate Dean term ends.”

Nicola’s teaching ranges across 100-to 500-level and her publications include a textbook In Perspective: Piecing Together the Literary Jigsaw, published by the NZ Association for the Teaching of English (NZATE) for use in the senior secondary school curriculum.

Associate Dean Pacific

Associate Professor Patrick Vakaoti will leave the Associate Dean Pacific role after several years in late June, and Te Tumu’s Dr Michelle Schaaf (right) will take up the role.
Michelle's research interests include Pacific Islands women and education, and the representation of Polynesian female body image with particular reference to sport in New Zealand. Michelle currently teaches 200 to 500-level papers on the Pacific diaspora, women in Polynesian communities and contemporary issues for Pacific Island communities.

“As a Pacific female academic in leadership you have to be prepared for good and not so good days. You have to be able to shake stuff up. You have to have some real courage to venture into unfamiliar spaces to explore the uncomfortable. You have to be prepared for criticism and stuff ups; and have the confidence to let all those impediments go. At the end of the day you have to turn up because it is never really about you. It should always be about “us”.”

Associate Dean International

Associate Dean (International) Dr Stephen Young (right) is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law. The role is being vacated being vacated by Professor Ben Schonthal after five years in late June. 

As Associate Dean International he will provide leadership on matters related to internationalisation in the Humanities Division. He AD-Young-226will also work closely with the International Office and the Associate Deans (International) in the other Divisions.

Before joining the Faculty of Law in 2019, Stephen was a Teaching Fellow at the University of New South Wales where he also completed his PhD. His dissertation focused on understanding how Indigenous peoples have been claiming free, prior and informed consent – an international human right – against natural resource development projects in various jurisdictions.

Prior to researching his PhD in Australia, Stephen worked as a civil litigator focusing, primarily, on tort disputes in Denver, Colorado US. He obtained a JD from the University of Colorado, a MA from Colorado State University, and a BA from Bucknell University.

“I’m looking forward to taking on this role and learning more about our Division and the Universities. Ben has set a very high standard, which I hope that I can continue.”