Daddy Grant Announced as Otago's New VC

Daddy Grant Announced as Otago's New VC

Dear God, please fix our budget

Ex-Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has been announced as Otago Uni’s fresh Vice Chancellor, effective from July 1st this year. According to the Chancellor, Stephen Higgs, Grant’s “appreciation for and understanding of the needs of students was evident” during the recruitment process. 


In an email sent to students at 11:40am this morning, the Uni said that Grant’s key focus in the role will be “leading the delivery of our strategy to 2030, Pae Tata, which aims to ensure our University is financially sustainable and continues to evolve and meet the expectations of our students, faculty, mana whenua, government and other stakeholders.” Critic Te Ārohi also applied for the role, but humbly bowed out after taking a peek at our own budget and getting confused.


Grant has deep roots in the Dunedin of yesteryear. He was the OUSA President in 1993 (AKA the ‘Big Cheese’), which saw a continued battle against rising tuition fees. He was one of 13 students arrested by riot police at a “raucous protest” on the Union Lawn against a University Council proposal to hike course fees by 15 percent. He also led a protest rally of over 1000 toward the registry building, telling Critic in 2016 that “people were really fed up… there was a lot of tension outside, door handles being broken and all sorts of shit.” 

Robertson’s appointment comes after a period of limbo in the University’s upper management, with Helen Nicholson assuming the role of acting Vice Chancellor after David Murdoch dipped on June 14, 2023. This leadership fuck-around came after the University announced mass redundancies would be necessary to reduce a $60 million deficit which popped up almost instantaneously early last year. 

Though the University has since mellowed in its redundancy stance, the financial challenges the institution faces still loom large, with debt expected to reach $203 million by the year’s end. Applications for the Vice-Chancellor role closed on October 20, and interviews took place over summer. Critic Te Arohi’s application never made it to the interviewing stage, so we don’t know the exact details of what happened but it’s likely there was funnel on entry.

After the email hit students’ inboxes, Critic Te Ārohi hit up a few stragglers at Tent City on the Otago Museum lawn to get their thoughts on how Robertson will fare. 

In an official statement from current OUSA President Keegan Wells, she says, “SHITT YEAH OUSA 4 LYFE”. Others were just as excited, with one student, Lachie, telling Critic Te Arohi, “I’m a big fan, I wish there were more of him.” Another student, Patrick, said, “I hope he sticks to his Labour policy… just look out for the working class.” Others were more tentative about the appointment, with one student, Asher, telling Critic Te Arohi, “I’m morally ambiguous on him.” We’re not sure if this was dirty talk or not, but either way they were excited. Young Nats refused to comment.

Chancellor Higgs concluded the announcement by acknowledging Professor Helen Nicholdson for her “contribution and leadership while she has been in the role of Acting Vice-Chancellor. It has been a challenging period for all universities in New Zealand, and more broadly around the world, and Professor Nicholson has been a strong and compassionate leader for us during this time. We look forward to formally acknowledging her at the appropriate time.”

This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2024.
Posted 12:03pm Tuesday 20th February 2024 by Hugh Askerud and Nina Brown.