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Open Polytechnic Celebrates New Principal Academic Staff Members

Two Open Polytechnic Academic Staff Members, Dr Eric Boamah (Information and Library Studies) and Neil Ballantyne (Social Work), were recently promoted to the prominent position of Principal Academic Staff Member.

Open Polytechnic Chief Executive, Dr Caroline Seelig, congratulated both staff members on their promotions in this year’s formal Academic Staff Member promotion round. “The promotion to Principal Academic Staff Member is an exceptional achievement and recognises the outstanding skills and expertise both Eric and Neil bring to Open Polytechnic, and the significant contribution they make alongside their peers, as experts in their fields.”

The distance learning specialist organisation, which is a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, also celebrated a further 12 Academic Staff Members who were made Senior Academic Staff Members during the same promotions round including Melanie Boyd, Dr Neeru Choudhary, Steve Devlin, Erin Hall, Dr Asma Jahan, Anuja Jena-Crottet, Andy Kenah, Simon Park, Dr Lesley Pitt, Liz Polley, Dr Ibrahim Rahman, and Jackie Solomon.

Open Polytechnic Manager of Learning & Teaching in Learning Delivery, and member of this year’s promotion panel, Andrew McCulloch, says the panel were pleased to receive such a high calibre of applicants from across a wide range of discipline areas.

“In particular, to meet the requirements of Principal Academic Staff Member, applicants must evidence thought leadership in their area of speciality and be widely recognised as a leader in their field of study and teaching practice to the extent that they have a New Zealand-wide, and possibly international, reputation,” says Andrew.

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“Promotion to Principal Academic Staff Member is a significant accomplishment and both Neil and Eric are academics at the forefront of their disciplines who have demonstrated sustained excellence in teaching, research, and engagement with our communities.”

“The impact of Neil’s research in the field of social change, social theory and human rights is acknowledged both nationally and internationally and Eric, who holds a number of senior appointments with stakeholder organisations and is currently President of the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (ARANZ), is a lifelong learner who uses his research to inform his teaching and learning practice,” says Andrew.

Principal Academic Staff Member Neil Ballantyne acknowledges the promotion as valuable recognition from his peers.

“In the academic community we often work as a team, each making a distinct contribution to the collective effort. Having the recognition of your academic peers for your contribution is always a taonga and something to be valued,” says Neil.


Neil says he is very lucky to be embedded in a strong, resilient, and cohesive team of social work academic staff at Open Polytechnic. “We are supported by line managers who work very hard to let us get on with what we are good at: helping students succeed, conducting meaningful research and contributing to our professional community.”

He says he is proud of the achievements that have helped contribute to his promotion, “Firstly leading a major collaborative research project on the readiness to practice of social work graduates, secondly, taking the initiative to make the Aotearoa New Zealand Journal of Social Work open access and finally, contributing to the design of the new Te Pūkenga unified social work programme.”

Principal Academic Staff Member, Dr Eric Boamah, says the promotion means a lot to him, and he is extremely grateful to Open Polytechnic for recognising his contributions in this way.

“Principal Academic Staff member is the highest position an academic staff member can attain in our academic context. To be promoted to this position means Open Polytechnic puts high consideration into all the contributions we make to the organisation.”

“I am grateful to Open Polytechnic for being supportive and recognising the hard work of staff openly and fairly.”

Eric is looking forward to the opportunities the promotion will bring. “It will increase opportunities for me to discuss the subjects I genuinely enjoy and will enhance my

engagement with higher-level leaders, managers, and practitioners within our vocation. The position opens doors for more collaborative research, which I very much look forward to.”

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