Grant Robertson Begins Appointment as New VC

Grant Robertson Begins Appointment as New VC

Dad's in da house

Today marks Grant Robertson’s official first day as the incoming Vice Chancellor for Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka. 

Mana whenua hosted a pōwhiri for Grant at Ōtākou Marae this morning on Otago Peninsula, an event that OUSA President Keegan Wells noted saw some impressive guests, including former PM Chris Hipkins.

Sheltered under the Clocktower from the rain (a classic Dunedin welcome) Grant spoke to reporters from Critic Te Ārohi, the Otago Daily Times and the NZ Herald between morning and afternoon welcoming events about his upcoming role. 

“Unsurprisingly, there’s quite a few meetings which seems to go with the job. Very much next couple of weeks getting my feet under the desk, getting on top of the current issues that we’ve got and starting to look ahead to the rest of the year.”

Asked what he thinks the biggest challenges facing the university are at the moment, Grant replied: “Everyone’s pretty clear on the financial challenges that all universities are facing, not just Otago, and we’ve still gotta work our way through those but there’s a good plan in place to deal with that.” 

As for the recent news of the potential for tertiary fees to be raised, Grant said it’ll be up to every university to make its decision based on its budget, keeping in mind the financial positions of students as well. “We’ll take some time to consult on that.”

“We want to make sure we’ve got a good crop of students coming in 2025, both international and domestic students, so there’s work to be done in that space. And there’s work to be done in making sure that the reputation of the university stays really sound. It is good.”

Having returned from holiday only recently, Grant said that Otago University received a mention on a Loch Ness boat trip for a DNA project the uni conducted about the mythical lake monster. “Every single day, thousands of tourists hear about Otago University. That’s a great story. So for me, yep there’s a lot of challenges but there’s massive loads of opportunities.”

Grant’s message to students is that he’s “delighted to be here and I’m looking forward to meeting as many as possible, as soon as possible.” In April, he met with OUSA student exec, including reps from the Māori and Pasifika student associations, whom he says gave him “lots of food for thought.”

“So I’m really looking forward to spending as much time as I can with students. To me that’s an important part of the job. Obviously I'm busy with the administration of the university, but the university only exists because of and for students so my message is that I know that and I’m keen to be working together.”


This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2024.
Posted 3:20pm Monday 1st July 2024 by Nina Brown.