2006 Annual Reports


Vice-Chancellor's Report (continued, 2)

Student Achievements

Through its academic programmes, support services and facilities, Victoria University aims to create a learning environment that fosters leadership, creative and critical thinking and communication skills for all its students.    The University recognised students who display those attributes by publishing a three-page supplement in The Dominion Post in July that highlighted its top scholars.   The supplement also thanked those alumni and friends of the University whose donations had made these scholarships possible.

As the size of the supplement indicated, it would be impossible to list all of them.   Two students, for example, were awarded scholarships to study at Cambridge University.  Chris Fisher was awarded a prestigious Woolf Fisher Scholarship to complete a PhD in English Literature and Joni Henry, was awarded a Prince of Wales Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship to study for a Master of Philosophy in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.  Timothy McKenzie was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to Canada to study for a Master of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

Another highly regarded group of scholarships are the William Georgetti Scholarships, administered by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellor’s Committee and the Public Trust.  William Georgetti, in establishing these awards in 1943 declared that “the best brains available” should benefit from the trust.  Two of those to benefit in 2006 were Stefanie Head, who will be completing a PhD in English Literature at the University of Rhode Island in the United States, and Amanda Gilbertson, who is studying towards an MA in Anthropology at Victoria.

The University has a long history of excellence in music that continues through the New Zealand School of Music, a joint centre of musical excellence established by Victoria and Massey universities. Soprano, Madeleine Pierard, who won the Lexus Song Quest in 2005 and graduated with a Bachelor of Music with Honours degree in Vocal Performance in 2006, was awarded both the Patricia Pratt and the Jack McGill scholarships, allowing her to study at London’s Royal College of Music.   The School’s Graduate String Quartet became the first recipients of the Pettman Royal Overseas League Arts International Scholarship for a New Zealand Chamber Ensemble.

The Bright Future Scholarships offered by the Tertiary Education Commission are also highly sought after.  Seven students (and one staff member) were awarded these prestigious scholarships in 2006.  Bright Future Top Doctoral Scholarships for students to undertake research at Victoria University were awarded to: Julia de Bres to complete a PhD in Linguistics; Andrew Mahoney to complete a PhD in Religious Studies; and Kyle Chard, to complete a PhD in Computer Science. Mina Razzak and Kirsten McEwen, from the School of Biological Sciences, received Bright Future Top Doctoral Scholarships to undertake biomedical research at Cambridge University in Britain.  As well, Bright Future Enterprise Scholarships were awarded to Rachel Ryan, to complete a Master of Building Science degree, and Jared Thomas, to complete a PhD in Psychology.

A significant group of scholarships are the Fulbright New Zealand awards, and several students and alumni received these in 2006.  Fulbright-Ministry of Research, Science and Technology Graduate Awards were received by: Architecture graduate Skye Duncan, to undertake an MSc in Architecture and Urban Design at Columbia University in New York; BSc graduate Elizabeth Forbes, to study towards a PhD in Medical Sciences at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; and BSc(Hons) graduate Rosanna Rahman, to undertake research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  Clinton Mexted Freeman, who holds a BCA and BSc, won a Fulbright-EQC Graduate Award in Natural Disaster Research to allow him to complete an MSc at George Washington University. Fulbright New Zealand also offer general graduate awards for study at an American university.   In 2006, these included scholarships to: Stefanie Head, mentioned above; Master of Laws student, Nicole Roughan, who will be undertaking an LLM in Legal Philosophy and International Law from Yale University; and LLB/BA graduate, Lucila van Dam, who will be completing an LLM in Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Law at the University of Michigan.

The New Zealand Postgraduate Study Abroad Awards, administered by Education New Zealand, is another major group of scholarships.  In 2006, 12 were awarded to Victoria University students to undertake doctoral or master’s research at an overseas university.  Those receiving the awards included: Aidah Abdul Karim (Information Systems); Khadija Aslam (International Business); Matthew Cairns (Chemistry); Paul Davies (Media Studies); Stacey Dravitski (Meteorology); Susanne Grigull (Geology); Nicholas Henry (International Relations); Xie Huayang (Computer Science); Fern Kelly (Chemistry); Kimberly Miller (Conservation Biology); Edgar Rodriguez Ramirez (Design); and Rachel Ryan (Building Science).

The attributes of creative and critical thinking, leadership and communication skills can also be seen in the wide variety of prizes and awards won by Victoria University students and graduates.  One of the highest honours the University can bestow on its students is the Medal for Academic Excellence, which may be awarded to the top student completing a Bachelor’s degree with Honours in each Faculty, if the very high standards for the award are met.  In 2006, those receiving the award were: Christopher Fisher, BA(Hons); Charlotte Goguel, BArch(Hons); Hugh King and Jessica Kerr, LLB(Hons); Timothy McKenzie, BSc(Hons); and Richard Van Den Engel, BCA(Hons).

Bachelor of Architecture student Claire Sharpe won the New Zealand Institute of Architects Dulux Student Design Award, the fifth time in six years that the University has taken this honour.  In the Industrial Design and Landscape Architecture programmes offered by the School of Design several other awards were won.

Master of Strategic Studies student Rebecca Lineham, from the School of Government, received the inaugural Prime Minister’s Prize in Strategic Studies, and the Holmes Prize, which is awarded for the best research paper or thesis in the Master of Public Policy, Public Management or Strategic Studies programmes.  She received her award from the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark.

Emma Gallagher, who is a student in the University’s renowned MA in Creative Writing programme in the International Institute of Modern Letters, won the Novice Award in the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards for her short-story, The Little Grandfather Clock. 

Master of Laws student, Rebekah Plachecki was a winner in the New Zealand Law Students’ Journal Competition, with her paper on international commercial contracts and restitution being selected for publication.

The University’s graduate attributes are not only displayed in scholarship, but in sporting and cultural endeavours as well.  Four undergraduate students—brothers Jeffrey Hunkin (tenor) and William Hunkin (baritone) with Marcellus Washburn (lead) and Matthew Gifford (bass)—became the first non-American group to win the International Collegiate Barbershop Quartet Championships, held in Indianapolis in July.  The quartet performed to much acclaim at the University’s inaugural Alumni Dinner at the Wellington Town Hall in October and at the December graduation ceremonies.

The University and the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) jointly hosted the 2006 University Games in April.  With its largest team ever, Victoria University was the clear winner and took home the coveted 83-year-old Games Shield.  University Sport New Zealand also awarded University Blues to three Victoria University students: BCA students Martin van Barneveld (triathlon) and Piers Gordon (underwater hockey); and BA and LLB student, Christopher Bishop (debating).  

Christopher Bishop was also named Sports Administrator of the Year in VUWSA’s Victoria Blues Awards and was the winner of the youth award in The Dominion Post Wellingtonian of the Year Awards.  Both awards recognised his contribution as convenor of the 2006 Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships (Australs) in July, which was hosted by the Victoria University Debating Society with University support.   The other significant Victoria Blues were awarded to BA(Hons) student Henry Heke, who won the Māori Sportsperson of the Year, and BSc and BCA student, Jessica Penney, who won the Sportsperson of the Year Award.

The Victoria University Debating Society team of Hugh McCaffrey, Polly Higbee and Lewis Holden won the Joynt Scroll at the New Zealand Universities Prepared Debating Championships in Auckland in August.  Polly Highbee was also named as best speaker and Captain of the New Zealand team whilst Lewis Holden won the Lord Bledisloe Award for Oratory.

Staff Achievements

Victoria University’s students’ achievements are largely based on the work of its academic and general staff.   From teaching, research and academic mentoring and supervision to assistance with matters as varied as enrolment and course advice to financial advice and student health and counselling, the University’s staff work to create an environment where students can flourish.  The University takes pride in the research and teaching accomplishments of its academic staff.  Professor Peter Barrett, Director of the Joint Antarctic Research Institute, was awarded the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research’s prestigious President's Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Antarctic Science in 2006. He was also named The Dominion Post Wellingtonian of the Year as well as taking out the Science and Technology section.

Professor Paul Callaghan, Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology and the Alan MacDiarmid Professor of Physical Sciences in the School of Chemical & Physical Sciences, was named in the New Year honours list as a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, the highest rank in the order.

Professor Bill Manhire, Director of the University’s International Institute of Modern Letters, had another good year, winning the poetry award in this year’s Montana Book Awards for his collection, Lifted.  He also collaborated with Professor Callaghan in editing Are Angels Ok?, a book that linked science and New Zealand literature.  As well as Professor Manhire’s award, Senior Lecturer Damien Wilkins won the Reference and Anthology award for his anthology, Great Sporting Moments.  

Victoria University’s high standing of teaching was recognised in July when Associate Professor Warwick Murray, from the School of Geography, Environment & Earth Sciences, received an award in the National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.  In five years, the University’s academic staff have received seven awards. 

The University also made a range of awards to recognise excellence by general staff and in research and teaching by academic staff. 

Eight associate professors were promoted to professor effective 1 January 2007. They were:  Gordon Anderson, Professor of Law; Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Professor of Asian History; Melanie Nolan, Professor of History; Elizabeth McLeay, Professor of Political Science; Sally Davenport, Professor of Management; Ken MacKenzie, Professor of Chemistry; Kay Morris Matthews, Professor of Education; and Lydia Wevers, Professor of New Zealand Studies.  In addition, 11 staff were promoted to Associate Professor and 29 to Senior Lecturer.

In the Faculty of Architecture & Design, Daniel Brown, Reader in Design, and alumna Erika Kruger, were selected as international artists to conceive and present the finale of the 2006 Midsummer’s Eve Arts Festival in Rome. Ombre Dal Lupercale (Shadows from the Realm of Wolves) involved eight metre high animations created by the pair being simultaneously projected along a 500m long section of the River Tiber embankment, accompanied by instrumental compositions by Italian composer, Walter Branchi.  Professor George Baird, of the School of Architecture, was awarded a Pioneers of World Renewable Energy Network Award at the World Renewable Energy Congress in Italy in August.

Academic staff in the Faculty of Commerce & Administration gained national and international recognition.  The School of Accounting & Commercial Law was accredited to CPA Australia, the world’s sixth largest professional accounting body, while the Tourism programme in the Victoria Management School, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2006, received TedQual certification by the World Tourism Organisation.  Cath Wallace, Senior Lecturer in the School of Government, and Andrew Renton-Green, Associate Fellow in the Centre for Strategic Studies, were both made members of the Queen’s Service Order in the New Year Honours. Rachel Lilburn, Lecturer in the School of Information Management, was appointed to the Ministerial Advisory Council for Archives New Zealand whilst Professor Kevin Holmes, from the School of Accounting & Commercial Law, was appointed as a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants National Tax Committee.

Dr Todd Bridgman, Lecturer in the Victoria Management School, had his research chosen by the editors of the Journal of Organizational Change Management as the winner of the 2006 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in the Organisational Change and Development category.  Senior Lecturer, Dr Ofer Zwikael, won an International Science & Technology Linkages Fund research grant from Royal Society of New Zealand.  Several academic staff were also appointed to the editorial boards of major journals.

In the Faculty of Education, Professor Dugald Scott was appointed as the inaugural Chairperson of the New Zealand Council of Deans of Education.  In addition to the establishment of the Jessie Hetherington Centre for Educational Research, academic staff in the Faculty, in collaboration with other University researchers, released significant new research on the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Dr Kabini Sanga and Cherie Chu from the School of Education Studies received a grant from the New Zealand International Aid & Development Agency to undertake leadership training for Pacific scholarship students at New Zealand universities.  Robin Averill, from the School of Primary & Secondary Teacher Education, was awarded a prestigious doctoral scholarship from the New Zealand Institute of Mathematics & its Applications.

The Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences is the University’s largest academic grouping, and many researchers received national and international attention.  Dr Lydia Wevers, from the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2006 Queen’s Birthday Honours and was reappointed for a further two-year term as Chair of the Guardians of the Alexander Turnball Library.  Dr Joseph Bulbulia, from the School of Art History, Classics & Religious Studies, was a Distinguished International Fellow in the Department for the Study of Religion at Aarhus University, Denmark.

2006 marked the first successful year of the New Zealand School of Music, as a centre of musical excellence in collaboration with Massey University, and the appointment of the inaugural Director, Professor Elizabeth Hudson.  Associate Professor John Psathas’ compact disc and DVD, View From Olympus, which was produced with substantial Victoria University support, was released to critical acclaim.  Lissa Meridan won the Douglas Lilburn Prize, which includes a commission from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, whilst Dr Dugal McKinnon's work for string quartet and percussion, Hoax Rifts, was premiered at the Tromp Festival in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

The School of Asian & European Languages & Cultures farewelled long-time Head of School, Professor Hansgerd Delbrück and celebrated significant honours and publications.  Senior Lecturer in French, Dr Jean Anderson, was awarded the prestigious Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes académiques by the French Government, an award given to those who have advanced the cause of French culture, education, and the arts.  Italian and Spanish administrator, Nina Cuccurullo, was awarded the Cavaliere-Stella della Solidarieta’ Italiana (Cavaliere-Star of Italian Solidarity) by the Italian Government for her contribution to Italian cultural promotion and her work for Italian students.  Several books were published by staff in the School’s various language programmes.

The year was particularly successful for academics in the School of English, Film, Theatre, & Media Studies with a host of new books published, including Professor David Norton publishing a Penguin Classics version of The Bible.  Emeritus Professor Vincent O’Sullivan was awarded one of two Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement and Dr Russell Campbell was awarded the inaugural Jonathan Dennis Award for Achievement by the Film & History Association of Australia & New Zealand. In the Theatre programme, Senior Lecturer David O’Donnell, directed the play Yours Truly that won the Production of the Year, Most Original Production and Lighting Designer of the Year awards in the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. 

The year was similarly successful for staff in the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, with several significant publications.  Associate Professor Melanie Nolan was awarded the Ian Wards Prize of the Archives & Records Association of New Zealand for her monograph, Kin: a collective biography of a New Zealand Working-Class Family.  Professor Kim Sterelny, from the Philosophy programme, was awarded the Jean Nicod Prize for 2008, which is awarded annually in Paris to a leading philosopher of mind or philosophically-oriented cognitive scientist.  The expertise of the University’s political scientists was recognised with Associate Professor Elizabeth McLeay speaking to the Ontario Government’s Citizen’s Assembly on electoral reform whilst Associate Professor Nigel Roberts was invited by the Mongolian Government to speak about proportional representation.

The School of Linguistics & Applied Language Studies continued to publish leading research related to language.  These included the publication of Professor Janet Holmes’ book, Gendered Talk at Work, while she also joined colleagues Professor Laurie Bauer and Associate Professor Paul Warren in publishing Language Matters.  Professor Holmes also presented the opening plenary paper at the International Gender & Language Association Conference in Spain in November.  Dr Dianne Bardsley, Manager of the New Zealand Dictionary Centre, was appointed Vice-President of the Australasian Association for Lexicography and gave the keynote address at its 2006 conference in Brisbane. 

In the School of Social & Cultural Studies, anthropologist Dr James Urry gave the Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist/Mennonite Studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada and had two books published on the history and politics of the Mennonite people. Academics in the Anthropology, Criminology, Sociology and Social Science Research programmes published a host of new books.  

Staff in Te Kawa a Māui, the School of Māori Studies, and Te Herenga Waka Marae co-led a programme of seminars to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening the carved wharenui on the Marae.     The University’s Pacific studies unit, Va’aomanū Pasifika, was launched with a welcome for inaugural Director, Associate Professor Tagaloatele Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop in March that was attended by more than 300 guests.   She was also appointed to the Royal Society of New Zealand's Social Sciences Advisory Committee and is a Member of New Zealand UNESCO Social & Human Sciences Committee. 

The Faculty of Law celebrated the centennial of John Salmond’s arrival as Professor of Law, with the Salmond Symposium in August. It also published a special edition of the Victoria University of Wellington Law Review that examined sexuality and citizenship.  Senior Lecturer Caroline Morris was awarded a Bright Future Top Doctoral Scholarship to undertake doctoral research at King’s College in London and Associate Professor Geoff McLay was awarded the New Zealand Law Foundation’s prestigious International Research Fellowship for 2006. In a more unusual honour, Professor David McLauchlan won Salient’s Academic Idol competition. 

Academic staff in the Faculty of Science continued to achieve at the highest level.  Professor Matt Visser, a highly creative mathematical physicist in the School of Mathematics, Statistics, & Computer Science, was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.  Dr Nicola Nelson, from the School of Biological Sciences, was appointed as a member of the Wellington Conservation Board.

In the School of Psychology, Dr Ann Weatherall won a Claude McCarthy Fellowship, allowing her to study at the University of California at Los Angeles. Dr Marc Wilson and PhD student Kate Bryson gained a $67,000 Ministry of Health grant to investigate recreational party pill use whilst Dr David Harper and Dr Maree Hunt were awarded $39,000 from the John Bailey Trust to support a project examining methods to improve judgments by road users. Dr Jason Low and Dr Sue Jackson received $20,000 from the Broadcasting Standards Authority to review children's exposure, use and responses to the media.  Several staff were appointed to major external bodies, including editing major journals or being a member of their editorial boards.

In the School of Geography, Environment & Earth Sciences, Dr Warwick Murray, who won a National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award, was appointed as academic representative to the Latin American Ambassadors by the New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies.  Professor Phil Morrison was reappointed to a committee that advises the Government Statistician on economic statistics. Associate Professor Joel Baker is establishing a state-of-the art geochemistry laboratory with significant University investment.   

In the School of Chemical & Physical Sciences, Associate Professor Pablo Etchegoin, Dr Eric Le Ru and Matthias Meyer from the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology developed a method of detecting and tracking single molecules using Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). Their research, published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, provided the most conclusive experimental proof so far on the detection of single molecules via SERS.  Dr Denis Sullivan and PhD student Aarno Korpela were part of an international team that discovered a new extrasolar planet about five times the mass of the Earth.  Their research was published in leading international science journal, Nature.

Alumni Achievements

Victoria University works with alumni from throughout the world to ensure they continue to participate in its stimulating cultural and intellectual life. The key communication mechanism is the alumni and friends magazine, Victorious, which is mailed to more than 40,000 people three times a year.   The Alumni Relations Office also manages an online directory, Life After Vic (www.vuw.ac.nz/alumni), so graduates can register and update their details through the internet, allowing them to contact fellow alumni and join special interest groups.  More than 1,000 alumni have so far registered.  I hosted alumni reunions in Hamilton, Auckland, Christchurch, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and London.  Other members of the University’s senior management hosted alumni reunions in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing and Shanghai.  The reunions in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing included the presentation of graduation certificates to those who did not attend a graduation ceremony in New Zealand.  The Hong Kong reunion saw the first degree certificates presented from the University’s International MBA programme, run in association with the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The University held six graduation ceremonies in May and four in December as well as several functions in Asia where graduates who were unable to attend a ceremony in New Zealand were presented with their degree certificates.  More than 4,500 degrees, diplomas and certificates were conferred. Eight honorary doctorates were conferred on people who have contributed much to the world’s intellectual life.  In May, Treaty of Waitangi claim pioneer, Sir Tipene O’Regan received an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree; anthropologist Professor Michael Jackson received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree; and lawyer, Professor Peter Hogg received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.  In August, philanthropist Lee Seng Tee received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree at a special ceremony in Singapore and in November, opera diva, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa received an honorary Doctor of Music degree at a special ceremony in London.  Both of these conferments were held in conjunction with the respective alumni reunions mentioned above. In December, kōhanga reo pioneer, Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, architect Gordon Moller and opera historian Jeremy Commons received honorary Doctor of Literature degrees.  As well, in October, the Council bestowed Hunter Fellowships on Adrian Orr and Andrew Dinsdale, recognising two further people who have made a substantial contribution to the University’s advancement through a variety of activities.

The inaugural Annual Alumni Dinner was held in October with 480 alumni and friends filling the Wellington Town Hall.  The dinner was an opportunity for the University to launch its Annual Alumni Appeal to introduce a culture of regular giving, and for the presentation of the seven inaugural Distinguished Alumni Awards.  Those honoured for their achievements were:

  • John Allen (LLB 1983), Chief Executive of New Zealand Post;
  • Jeremy Coney (BA 1983), former New Zealand cricketer;
  • Dr Richard Furneaux (BSc 1971, MSc 1973, PhD 1977), Carbohydrate Chemistry Technology Platform Manager at Industrial Research Ltd;
  • David Gascoigne (LLM 1964), founding trustee and Executive Chairman of the New Zealand International Arts Festival and Chair of the Rugby World Cup 2011 Bid Advisory Committee;
  • Jocelyn, Lady Keith (BA(Hons) 1983), National President of the New Zealand Red Cross, and former head of the University’s then Department of Nursing Studies;
  • Deidre Tarrant, (BA 1967) dancer, choreographer and director; and
  • Joseph Williams, (LLB 1986) (Ngāti Pukenga, Te Arawa), Chief Māori Land Judge and Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal.