Tuesday 26 November 2019 12:22pm
All year we have been celebrating the University’s 150th birthday, holding number of celebrations to mark this auspicious milestone. As we look back on this year I would hope that the forward-thinking Scottish settlers who established New Zealand’s first university in 1869 would be proud of what the University has become.
From just 81 students and three professors, the University has grown and prospered. Today Otago has about 20,000 students, employs more than 3,800 staff, and is a significant educational, economic and cultural force.
We started our 150th year with a picnic on the Clocktower lawn in February. Throughout the first semester there were a number of celebrations including the 150th Academic Procession, Convocation Ceremony, Anniversary Dinner and Exhibition Opening, as well as the rugby match where Selwyn College triumphed over Knox College and took home the Somerville Shield.
The Anniversary Gold Ball was held in the second semester, with members of the University community dressed in their best to celebrate Otago. Later we held the Clocktower Cushion Concert, the 1869 Heritage Festival and the International Rowing Regatta.
As well as triumphs there have been challenges this year which have affected many of our students. The tragic death of second-year student Sophia Crestani deeply affected our close-knit community and our thoughts remain with her family and friends.
As 2019 draws to a close, I am delighted to bring you another collection of stories about students making a difference in our community, achieving on the local and global stage, and getting the most out of their time here at Otago.
In this issue, we celebrate our fantastic rowers who have continued to succeed in New Zealand and beyond; potential Olympic swimmer Caitlin Deans; our Blue & Golds awardees; cricketer Claudia Green and New Zealand underwater hockey player Eli Campbell-Stokes.
Our musically-inclined students are also celebrated in this issue – including talented cellist Tessa Dalgety-Evans and Tyler Bailey who is taking on a new role as an Australian Music Examinations Board Ambassador.
Lastly, we celebrate our students and staff who are making a difference to the community during their time at Otago. A group of Knox College students and alumni ran in the Dunedin Marathon to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease; students headed to Fox Glacier to clean up after flooding uncovered an old rubbish site; and staff and students took part in the Strike 4 Climate.
I hope you will take a moment to watch our annual Christmas video, which this year features an incredibly talented quartet of Honours students from the University’s classical voice programme in the School of Performing Arts, performing their rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful. The video also includes many highlights from this 150th year and looks back at the history of this great institution.
I would like to thank you for your continued support of the University of Otago. Although there is much to do before the students return, we are already looking forward to welcoming them back at the beginning of 2020. Until then, I hope that you all enjoy your time together and have the happiest and safest of holidays – wherever you are in the world.
On behalf of the University of Otago, Meri Kirihimete – Merry Christmas.
Professor Harlene Hayne, ONZM, PhD, HonDSc, FRSNZ