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First Chair Appointed to New Joint Academic Board

Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia Community Polytechnic

17 February 2012

Media Release: First Chair Appointed to New Joint Academic Board

Roger Sowry, Chair of the Council for the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) and Whitireia Community Polytechnic, today announced the formation of a single, combined academic board for the Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia Community Polytechnic and the appointment of Dr Peter Coolbear as the inaugural chair.

Recent legislation allows governing bodies of polytechnics, “Councils”, to combine with the government’s approval. The Whitireia Community Polytechnic and Wellington Institute of Technology combined council was approved by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Steven Joyce late in 2011. The combined council came into effect on 1 January 2012 formally signalling the start of a new Strategic Partnership for both institutions.

A key component of the Strategic Partnership, called “Students First”, is the streamlining of academic processes and standards. Students First aims to provide a network of tertiary-level applied and vocational education in the Wellington region. Students First has a strong focus on providing students with comprehensive and relevant skills with qualifications that are sought-after by industry and the professions.

“A tertiary education institution’s Academic Board is required to advise its Council on matters relating to courses of study or training, awards and other academic matters, all of which are crucial to the successful operation of institutes of technology and polytechnics. Establishing a single Academic Board across both WelTec and Whitireia will see considerable benefits not only for the institutions, but for students who will be able to make better choices about what they study. I believe students will receive greater recognition of the qualifications they achieve through a joint approach to academic matters and broader industry involvement from employers across the Wellington region,” says Roger Sowry.

“We are particularly pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Peter Coolbear to the role of independent chair of the joint Academic Board. Peter is the Director of Ako Aotearoa, New Zealand’s National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. Ako Aotearoa’s vision is to contribute to the best possible educational outcomes for all learners which is exactly what the Academic Board will be focused on through the establishment of new collaborative relationships. Peter has skills working with Maori and Pacific educators to improve achievement levels of Maori and Pacific students. As Whitireia and WelTec have large numbers of Maori and Pacific students these skills will be put to good use.

“Peter brings a strong academic and comprehensive research background to the role. Peter is held in high esteem by educationalists in New Zealand and overseas. With his expertise and understanding of excellence in teaching, staff at WelTec and Whitireia are set to benefit from Peter’s involvement with the Board.”


For more information contact:

Linda Sissons, Chief Executive, WelTec on 027294073

Don Campbell, Chief Executive, Whitireia on 0276875608

Background Statement on Dr Peter Coolbear

Dr Peter Coolbear - MA, PhD, Cert Ed (FE), MEdAdmin (Hons)

Peter is the foundation director of Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. He took up this role in July 2007, having previously been deputy chief executive at Manukau Institute of Technology since 2002 where he chaired MIT’s academic board.

Originally he was a teacher and researcher in plant physiology, first in the United Kingdom and then at Massey University. At Massey he worked for several years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade funded Seed Technology Centre, gaining extensive experience in teaching international students.

From the mid-90s he has held a series of management positions in the New Zealand polytechnic sector, in the Tertiary Resources Division of the Ministry of Education and for a short-time was chief advisor ITP investment at the TEC. He has served on the Council of Otago Polytechnic and the Board of ITPQ. He is presently deputy chair of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, a member of Te Rōpū Whāiti Whakangungu Pakeke (the Adult Community Education Professional Development Steering Group) and a member of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs Leadership Programme Steering Group.

Peter has special interests in access to success in tertiary education, quality assurance in tertiary education and the interface between research and teaching.


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