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Celebrating our graduands

12 December 2006

Celebrating our graduands

This week, hundreds of Victoria University students will parade through the streets of Wellington to celebrate reaching an educational milestone—graduation.

More than 900 students will graduate with degrees, diplomas and certificates in three graduation ceremonies on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 December.

Two distinguished New Zealanders will also be honoured with honorary doctorates: internationally recognised opera historian, writer and librettist, Jeremy Commons, and renowned New Zealand architect Gordon Moller, designer of the Sky Tower.

Twenty-six PhDs will be conferred, in addition to the three given at Te Hui Whakapūmau, the University’s marae-based graduation ceremony, held last week. Topics include: creating a one-million word corpus, or database, of spoken Māori; the effects of severe spinal cord injury on various aspects of the lives of people who are wheelchair-dependent; and designing a window for New Zealand houses to store solar energy.

The traditional street parade of staff and graduands will depart from the Government Buildings Historic Reserve on Thursday and Friday at noon, parading along Lambton Quay and Willis and Mercer Streets to finish in Civic Square, where they will be welcomed by Mayor Kerry Prendergast.

If the parade is cancelled, notification will be given on Newstalk ZB from 11am on the morning of the parade.

Ceremony details:

Thursday 14 December: Michael Fowler Centre
Noon graduation parade
Ceremony 1: 1.30pm Faculty of Commerce & Administration
Ceremony 2: 6.30pm Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences
Honorary Doctorate: Jeremy Commons

Friday 15 December: Michael Fowler Centre
Noon graduation parade
Ceremony 3: 1.30pm Faculties of Architecture & Design, Education, Law, and Science
Honorary Doctorate: Gordon Moller

Graduation story – Things go in threes
Clare McAloon-Balfour is graduating with her Master of Laws on Friday – her third Master’s degree received from Victoria. She already holds a Master of Public Policy, conferred in 1998, and a Master of Applied Finance, which she completed in 1998. She is the third of three sisters to graduate from Victoria and it is 30 years since she first graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in 1976.

PhD Thesis topics (a selection from the 29 graduands)

Criminal rehabilitation
Many criminals fail to recognise the damage of their actions and consequently, the need to stop committing crime. Brendan Anstiss examined the effectiveness of a rehabilitative programme known as ‘motivational interviewing’ in reducing offenders’ criminal behaviour. Motivational interviewing does not seek to rehabilitate criminals directly but to interest them in making changes themselves. This study revealed that offenders who completed the programme had a 21 percent lower re-conviction rate than comparable untreated offenders, even when they attended no further rehabilitation. This programme’s success offers new insights into how offenders change, and considerable benefit to New Zealand’s justice system.

One million Māori words
In her research, Mary Boyce designed and created a million-word corpus, or database, of spoken Māori taken from Māori broadcasts. She used this corpus to investigate the words that occur most often and which are a core element of any message conveyed in Māori. Mary’s research identified aspects of word use and word sense not previously described in dictionaries and grammars of Māori, making the corpus of great value to teachers and researchers of Māori. It will also be useful in designing curricula for teaching purposes.

Fertility figures
In female mammals, genetic mutations that affect the number of eggs released at ovulation are invaluable as they may offer new insights into the molecular mechanisms that control this process. Elisabeth Feary examined a unique line of sheep that had a complex X-chromosome-linked inheritance pattern that caused an increase in twinning. She found the mechanism of ovulation in these animals was different to that of other known mutations. Elisabeth's research indicates that this rare genetic mutation could lead to a new understanding of the process of regulating fertility in mammals.

Changing times
American musician Bob Dylan’s encounter with the work of the German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht was a significant moment in the history of American protest music. “The times they are a-changin’”, a phrase adapted from Brecht, became a famous expression of youthful dissent. However, Brecht’s influence ultimately led the American to abandon the protest-singing platform he had inherited from Woody Guthrie. Esther Harcourt’s research demonstrates that Brecht’s ambivalent artistic stance determined the subversive direction the young Dylan would take, and reveals how Brecht’s example crucially shaped the distinctive voice that made Dylan so important to a generation of Americans.

Severe spinal cord injury
Merima Isakovic-Cocker investigated the effects of severe spinal cord injury on the intimate, physical, social and vocational life of people who were wheelchair dependent. Her research combined three studies: a large-scale survey; an experiment and a single case study. She found that re-learning motor skills might be achieved after a severe spinal injury by employing implicit learning principles and a client-centred approach. Merima’s research was internationally recognised as compelling, with a thought-provoking style, revolutionary and challenging thinking, excellent ideas, passion and the high-level synthesis that provides remarkable rehabilitation models that merit further research and clinical application.

Warming windows
Researchers have consistently found that many houses in New Zealand are cold and unhealthy. As a part of his research, Henry Skates designed a novel and innovative window system specifically for New Zealand houses. The window collects and stores solar energy in a special paraffin wax and then makes the heat available later in the day when the sun has set. The window system not only reduces energy costs by a third, but also raises the level of comfort in summer and winter by storing excess heat and making it available when required.
Gender and leadership in the Solomon Islands

Alice Pollard examined the presence and absence of women in three separate leadership spheres of the Solomon Islands: the `Are`Are Society; the South Sea Evangelical Church; and in Parliament.

She argues the issue of gender and leadership is critical for rethinking and redesigning the future direction of the country, with leadership being the key to reconstructing and rebuilding the new Solomon Islands. The rebuilding process will mean reclaiming women’s leadership roles in the three spheres, providing training for both female and male leaders, providing political awareness in the wider community, and addressing corruption and malpractice in the electoral process.

ENDS

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