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Respected Academic Appointed To Senior Position

23 March 2004

Respected Academic Appointed To Senior Research Role

Interim appointment allows “maximum flexibility” for incoming Vice-Chancellor

Professor Geoff White, former Head of the Department of Psychology and an internationally-regarded researcher, has been named as Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, at the University of Otago. He replaces Dr Ian Smith who steps down on 16 May.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Graeme Fogelberg made the announcement this week, in close consultation with his own successor, Vice-Chancellor Designate, Professor David Skegg.

“Professor White has had substantial experience as a University administrator, having led the Department of Psychology for 10 years, and is highly respected as an outstanding research scholar,” Dr Fogelberg says. “He will bring to the role the necessary experience, knowledge, and commitment to research which the position demands.”

In the short term, responsibility for Dr Smith’s international portfolio would reside with the Director of the International Office who would report directly to the Vice-Chancellor.

Dr Fogelberg added that in making the interim appointment he was mindful to allow “maximum flexibility” for Professor Skegg who takes over as Vice-Chancellor on 1 August of this year.

“I know that Professor Skegg will want to make his own decisions about the structure of his senior administrative team, and it is important that he have that flexibility. This is why we have decided not to pursue a permanent appointment in the immediate future.”

Professor White’s appointment extends up to 31 December 2005.

“I am delighted to be able to serve the University during this transition period,” Professor White says. “Certainly I have a very strong appreciation for the achievements of the many established researchers throughout the university, as well as for the potential of the talented early-career researchers currently being fostered across the Divisions.

“Having supervised 20 PhD graduates and many masters and honours students, I know that our graduate students also make an enormously important contribution to the research life at Otago, both in terms of their energy and bright ideas.”
A Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and elected to Fellowships of the New Zealand, British and American psychological societies, Professor White has published over 100 papers in the field of the psychology of memory and discrimination learning.

He has received distinguished research awards from the New Zealand Psychological Society, and a prestigious award form the American Psychological Association for the best paper in general psychology in 2000-01. He has also served on the social sciences panel for the Marsden Foundation, and reviews grants for other national and international agencies.

Last year, Professor White was selected by the Otago University Student Association for the inaugural award of postgraduate supervisor of the year.


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