Friday 13 November 2009 12:37pm
The next Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Sciences, at the University of Otago will be Professor Keith Hunter.
A leading marine and freshwater chemist, Professor Hunter will succeed Professor Vernon Squire, who takes up his new role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic & International) from 1 February 2010.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor leads the Division of Sciences, which comprises a wide range of science departments, as well as the Schools of Physical Education and Surveying.
Professor Keith Hunter is currently the head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Otago.
Announcing the appointment, Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg said that Professor Hunter was selected from a strong field of candidates from around the world. "Professor Hunter was chosen because of his strategic vision, his excellence as a scientist and academic, and his record of outstanding leadership".
Keith Hunter graduated with first class honours from the University of Auckland, before completing his PhD as a Rutherford Scholar at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. After postdoctoral experience in France, he was appointed to the University of Otago in 1979. He received a personal chair in 1994, and has been the head of department for nearly five years.
Professor Hunter has served on international committees on oceanography, and is one of the national delegates to the United Nations Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research. His strong record of research collaborations includes serving as the University Director of the joint NIWA-University of Otago Centre for Chemical and Physical Oceanography, which was established in 1996.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and received the University of Otago's highest research honour, the Distinguished Research Medal, in 2007. Professor Hunter has been involved in six successful Marsden Grant proposals and has attracted research funding from other competitive sources. He is a former national president of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, and is currently a member of the Royal Society Academy Council.
Professor Hunter says that he feels most honoured to be chosen as the next Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Sciences.
"The Division of Sciences is currently very strong, which is a direct result of the dedicated and brilliant academics, technicians and other support staff within it.
"Their commitment to teamwork and excellence is really commendable, and I see it as my job to do all I can to maintain their high morale and also to help foster new opportunities that will strengthen our leading position in university science.
"However, we must not become complacent. The global financial crisis poses special challenges, and we will have to be bold in responding to these."
Professor Hunter says that like his predecessor, Professor Squire, he will be doing his best to maintain an active role in research, and may also give a small number of lectures in his specialist field.
"I see these activities as important in keeping me grounded as an academic leader. In respect of research, I am very fortunate that most of my work is collaborative in nature so that I enjoy the support of other research colleagues."
The University of Otago Division of Sciences has over 4,000 equivalent full-time students, and was confirmed in the Government's Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) evaluation as the top research faculty in the sciences in New Zealand.
For more information, contact
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 5016
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