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Check out Carrington College and meet the Warden

Friday 22 July 2016 4:15pm

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At Carrington College ... Warden Peter Walker (holding coffee mug) says there's no such thing as a typical day in the life of a college Warden, and that is just the way he likes it. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

Living in a residential college is an important part of the University experience for many students leaving home for the first time. At Otago, each of our 14 undergraduate residential colleges is supported by a team of people whose main priority is to ensure the welfare, enjoyment and overall success of residents in their care.

At the helm of each college is a leader — known as a Warden at some, or a Head of College or College Master at others — who is responsible for all aspects of the running and day-to-day management of the college, its residents, and staff.

In the first instalment of what will be a regular feature in the Otago Bulletin Board, we introduce Peter Walker, the Warden at Carrington College:


Q. How long have you been with the college/University? How did you come to this role?

A. I came to the University in the nineties to study and, aside from three years away in Auckland, have been at Otago ever since. I previously worked at Aquinas College as the Deputy Head, and Cumberland College as the Head of College, before jumping at the chance to become the Warden of Carrington College three years ago.

Q. What is your favourite college event each year and why?

A. We have such a huge range of awesome events it is quite hard to pick just one! The College Sports Day is always lots of fun and Carrington’s musical events are wonderful for showing what an amazing range of talent we have. But my personal favourite would have to be Carrington Dodgeball early in the year. It’s a great way to have some fun with a new Carrington cohort, get some exercise and meet new residents.

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Images of Carrington College: (clockwise from left) The main entrance to Linton House, where residents gather to play pool, relax in the lounge, take in one of Carrington's famous musical performances, or visit the college's administrative offices; Mr Walker in Linton House’s formal lounge, where many performances are held; the tennis court is conveniently located at the heart of Carrington; the college has five communal study areas for independent study, group work or tutorials; a typical dormitory-style room at Carrington; and signs point the way to the college's many houses. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

Q. What is your favourite place/amenity in your college and why?

A. Carrington has three hectares of beautiful gardens so just about anywhere on the Carrington campus is a great place to be! A cup of coffee from the Dining Hall on the deck in the afternoon sun is just perfect.

Q. If your college was a person, how would you describe it?

A. Highly talented and hardworking but with great balance between work and play, and a real desire to do good in the world.

Q. What would you say makes your college unique? What sets it apart from others at Otago?

A. I think the Carrington location and buildings are unique and they strongly influence life here. We are very close to campus and town but being set a block away we get a wonderfully quiet environment in which to live and study. Having a mix of dorm-style and grand old villas gives us a magnificent village feel and a range of bedrooms full of character.

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The newer and the older ... Carrington's dormitories provide contrast to its villas. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

Q. Describe a typical day for yourself around the college.

A. I am not sure there is any such thing as a typical day as the Warden of Carrington. Within a standard working day I can progress from looking at budgets and strategic planning to running around on the tennis court playing football. The one thing that each day does have in common is lots of coffee and a delicious lunch in the Dining Hall.

Q. Is there a particularly memorable story/highlight from your time at the college?

A. The most memorable highlight from my time in colleges would be when two treasured former staff returned to the college on opening weekend. I had not been able to attend their wedding that weekend so they came to visit in their wedding attire. I happened to be speaking to the entire college about what it meant to be part of a college community so their timing couldn’t have been more perfect and I was extremely touched that they made the special effort to come and see me.

Q. What do you hope the students will get out of their time at your college?

A. I hope they get to experience the two greatest gifts living in colleges —particularly as a first-year student — has given to me. The first is the opportunity to grow and mature in a supported environment that creates a lot of lasting memories. The second, and perhaps most important, is a whole lot of great friends. The people you meet in your first year living in a college tend to be some of the greatest friends and people you’ll be likely to meet, and they’ll be with you for all the important things throughout the rest of your life.

Q. What would people be surprised to learn about your college? About your role as warden?

A. I suspect most would not know the role of Warden is a live-in role and that I live on-site with my wife Sarah and our three boys; Theo (10), Zach (8) and Toby (5). We join the college for dinner most nights and the boys, even though they can be a bit shy, love interacting with the residents. They come along to quite a few of the college events and particularly love the Harry Potter theme dinner and even took part in the Dodgeball tournament this year.

Find out more about Carrington College:

It was established by a group of Dunedin stalwarts with strong links to the church and education. The college was officially opened in February 1945 as the first co-educational student residence in Australasia. New buildings have been added and named after notable Dunedinites over the years. Carrington now caters for 243 residents, including about 220 first-year full-time students.

Address: 57 Heriot Row, Dunedin
Web: www.otago.ac.nz/carrington