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Retirement of Associate Professor Gill Johnson

Friday, 1 April 2016

Gill JohnsonAssociate Professor Gill Johnson, MSc PhD DipGrad(Otago) DipPhty FNZCP, is farewelled by the School of Physiotherapy staff at a function at the Staff Club on 8th April.

Gill graduated from the New Zealand School of Physiotherapy in 1972 and started her physiotherapy career in Invercargill but the majority of her years have been spent as a member of the academic staff of the School of Physiotherapy, Gill joined the School staff in 1987 and moved through its transitions from the purpose built New Zealand School of Physiotherapy building on Hanover Street (now the Fraser building) where she worked with physiotherapy icons such as Billie McLeod and Grace Wilson, to the Forth Street Campus of the Otago Polytechnic, working with colleagues including Judy Wilson and Andrea Mosely, on to temporary premises in the Hercus building when the School transferred back to the University in 1996; and finally in 1997, to the purpose built building on Great King Street where she has worked along with the three Deans, John Sullivan, David Baxter and now Leigh Hale. It is fitting that Gill was able to participate in the celebrations this year, to mark 20 years since the reestablishment of the School within the Division of Health Sciences at the University.

Gill’s background in women’s health, antenatal care and clinical anatomy have brought an important dimension to the teaching and learning at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She has covered many aspects of the curriculum from class teaching, slings and pullies to the application of histopathology of osteoporosis. She brought strength to the curriculum through her resolve to continue to have the health sciences taught by the experts in their fields and for the physiotherapy specific papers to be well grounded in the principles of biomechanics, functional anatomy and pathophysiology. Gill established the original post graduate clinical anatomy paper and was an early leader in the concept of collaborative practice through her role with dental colleagues.

Her eye for detail, interest in photography and in history meant she was a natural person to lead the research required for the School’s Centennial history, published in 2003, and to provide support for the author. As part of the centennial celebrations Gill also assisted with the curation of an exhibition in the de Beer Gallery Reaching Out: Celebrating 100 years of Otago Physiotherapy Graduates and she continued to gather, categorise and store archives in the School until her last day at the School.
In her wider professional life Gill served on the academic board and later chaired the New Zealand College of Physiotherapy and was awarded a Fellowship of the College in 2009 for her contribution to research. In 2013 she was appointed as an Associate Professor and took on the role of Deputy Dean of the School in July 2015 till her retirement. At the time of her retirement she was also serving on a range of committees within the School and Division of Heath Sciences. Gill has always been a regular attender and presenter at professional meetings and conferences and we hope she continues to mentor and share her vast knowledge within the profession as she moves on to enjoy more family time, the joys of the cottage in Duntroon and exploring new places around the world.

Margot Skinner
April 2016