Otago University Coy Over Plans to Replace Dept. of Politics Staff Member

Critic understands that a second staff member from the Department of Politics has taken an offer of voluntary redundancy, with the University keeping tight-lipped on whom, if anybody will be replacing them.

It is not publically known at this stage which staff member has taken up the offer.

The university isn’t prepared to disclose their plans for the vacant position, with Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Division of Humanities Tony Ballantyne saying that “Despite recent changes, the teaching capacity in the [Politics] Department remains strong and will meet the needs of current enrolments. The Department turns 50 this year and has a proud history worth celebrating. Staff in the department deliver research and teaching that is world-class, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the Department’s future will be as strong and vibrant as its past.”

Ballantyne’s reassuring yet vague statement does not confirm or deny the move, although it does seem to suggest that going forward the department will be strong with or without a replacement. 

A Management of Change (MoC) process for five Division of Humanities departments was undertaken in July last year, with spiraling deficits and lacking student enrolments being provided as the main cause; the Department of Politics was not among those five affected departments.

This could potentially be because, prior to the beginning of the MoC process, the university asked staff across the division whether they would be willing to take an offer of voluntary redundancy to gauge how many staff they needed to cut. As such, it's possible that some departments were actually saved from being included in the MoC process as a result of staff taking up such offers. 

For example, former Otago University Politics Dr Bryce Edwards took voluntary redundancy at the beginning of the process, and finished a decade long tenure at the university at the end of last month. 

When prompted for more specifics, the university’s Head of Communications Megan McPherson responded by saying “We can’t talk about individual staff members’ individual employment details…it’s clear in Tony’s answer that the teaching capacity in the department meets the needs of current enrolments.”

This article first appeared in Issue 9, 2017.
Posted 10:45am Sunday 30th April 2017 by Joe Higham.