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Associate Professor Megan Gibbons (Ngāpuhi) has been appointed to head Otago's largest academic division, Health Sciences.

The University of Otago has appointed Associate Professor Megan Gibbons (Ngāpuhi) to the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Health Sciences.

Associate Professor Gibbons obtained a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Auckland in 2013 and was awarded an Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching award for sustained excellence in teaching in 2016.

At Te Pūkenga, she was Deputy Chief Executive responsible for the research structure and strategy including developing the connection between rangahau Māori and research. She has also been the Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson, who made the selection in consultation with the incoming Vice-Chancellor, Hon Grant Robertson, says Associate Professor Gibbons has a wealth of experience and expertise in the tertiary and health sectors.

“We know Otago will benefit from this knowledge as we implement and embed the recommendations from the current structural review of the Division of Health Sciences, along with continuing our work towards Vision 2040 and our strategic plan to 2030, Pae Tata.

“I look forward to welcoming her to the University,” Professor Nicholson says.

Associate Professor Gibbons is excited to take on the challenge of heading the largest academic division of Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest university.

“I have a passion for education and health and this role allows me to bring both together at a time where there are challenges in both areas. I will be working to ensure the Division is future-focussed and Te Tiriti-led, enabling us to build on our reputation and ranking,” she says.

The Division of Health Sciences incorporates the Faculty of Dentistry, Otago Medical School (including the Dunedin School of Medicine, the Christchurch and Wellington campuses), School of Pharmacy, School of Physiotherapy, School of Biomedical Sciences, and the divisional office.

“I am looking to work with all of our campuses to ensure consistency and collaboration are a focus, while building our profile and accessibility to the communities and industries we are part of. This will include maintaining and developing relationships with mana whenua to ensure that their expectations and aspirations are part of our future.

“There is also a very important role in advocacy and agency to ensure that our research findings are informing policy, practice and providing expert opinions nationally and internationally.”

As a member of the Interprofessional Learning Centre working group, Associate Professor Gibbons worked closely with staff from the University and the then Southern District Health Board. She is also strongly committed to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and has established networks with iwi, local and central government, businesses and many community groups.

“I am looking forward to being back in an educational role and working with kaimahi to allow them to have the space to achieve to the highest levels in their roles.

“Otago is where I started my education with both my first and second degrees and I know the role that the institution has in changing people’s lives and outcomes and that excites me.”

Professor Nicholson thanks Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Trish Priest and Acting Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Gemmell for their significant mahi in leading Health Sciences since mid-2022 and for progressing the structural review of the Division.

Associate Professor Gibbons will start in the role on April 29.

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