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Professor Jessica Palmer will take up her new role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) on 1 August.

Legal scholar Professor Jessica Palmer has been appointed as the University of Otago’s next Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement).

Professor Palmer is currently the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities – Te Kete Aronui) and was selected after an internal recruitment process to replace Professor Tony Ballantyne.

The External Engagement Division – Te Ringa Toro comprises Development and Alumni Relations, the Centre for Asia-Pacific Excellence, Communications, International, Marketing, Schools Liaison, Undergraduate Entrance Scholarships, and the Auckland Centre. It has a strategic focus on raising the profile of the University and student recruitment.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson is thrilled to appoint Professor Palmer to the role.

“Jessica has a passion for the University, its staff and students, alongside considerable governance, and leadership experience.

“I am pleased she will be bringing her talent to the External Engagement Division, which plays a key role in sharing the University’s stories and implementing our strategic documents Pae Tata and Vision 2040.”

Professor Palmer describes the appointment as a “huge privilege”.

“I am really grateful for all that Otago has given me over the last 19 years and I’m honoured to be able to serve in this role,” she says.

While she will miss working closely with the talented leaders and staff in Humanities, she is looking forward to a new challenge and working across the wider University community.

“Our external engagement staff love this place and work hard to see it succeed, as do so many people all across the University. There is much to be done, but there is also much of which we can be rightly proud, including the important mahi done on our new brand and the developing international strategy.

“Along with working on strengthening recruitment, and substantially growing our student cohorts, I am looking forward to working with the incoming Vice-Chancellor on our relationships with alumni, local and international partners, government agencies, and future students, and alongside the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori on our growing relationship with mana whenua.”

Professor Palmer has degrees in law and commerce, including a Master of Laws from the University of Auckland and a Master of Laws from the University of Cambridge.

As well as being a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, she is a Chartered Member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors and has been a recipient of the Otago and Southland Emerging Director Award.

She has also won several early career awards for distinction in research from the University of Otago as well as multiple teaching awards.

Professor Palmer will be taking up the role in August. Professor Ballantyne stepped down from the role in March to return to the History Programme in the School of Arts.

Professor Hugh Campbell, of the Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology Programme, will be Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) while a recruitment process to replace Professor Palmer is undertaken.

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