Head of School Update, May 2014

21 May 2014

Welcome to winter. The FAR consultation period finished on Friday. Thank you all to those many people who made individual and group submissions, and for those who fed back into the School submission. I think we have done our best to convey our concerns.


  • I am pleased to announce that Boyd Swinburn has taken up the role in the School of Director of Research.  Thanks to others who also put their names forward for this role. Boyd will be bringing his extensive experience in the Australian and New Zealand research funding environment. We are also excited about his vision on where research might head within the School and his contribution to the credibility and profile of our research contributions. 
  • I wish to acknowledge with sincere gratitude the contribution Cliona Ni Mhurchu to the School in her two year stint as Director of Research. During this time she has helped establish how we manage PBRF funds, she has represented us well at Faculty and has helped guide us on research directions.
  • Congratulations to Helen Petousis Harris and Peter Saxton for being awarded funding for a HRC feasibility study worth $150,000 for 1 year: “Feasibility study of HPV infection awareness and vaccine acceptability in men”.
  • Congratulations to Rod Jackson for success with a HRC international relationship fund ($199,809), to build collaboration with colleagues in Europe: “Using linked electronic health records for translational research in personalised health care, a NZ-UK-Danish collaboration”.
  • Congratulations to Jude McCool for success in obtaining funding from NZAID (MFAT), $280,000 for “mHealth for smoking cessation in Samoa and American Samoa”
  • On the fitness side of things: Sue Wells did the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker at Taupo (http://www.oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz/) recently and raised $2999 for Oxfam; Kim Dirks completed a sub-four-hour marathon in Rotorua; and Peter Adams crashed his bicycle off a raised boardwalk on the Waikato Cycle Trail.

Goings and Comings

  • Welcome to Amy Bird to the position of 2-tenths permanent lecturer in Primary Mental Health in General Practice and Primary Health Care. Amy is a registered Clinical Psychologist with a PhD on “Talking about past emotions with children: Socioemotional predictors and implication for the developing self-concept” from the University of Otago. Amy is also a young mum with three beautiful children.
  • Fond farewells to Judy Shinnick who taught two postgraduate courses: POPLPRAC702 Primary Mental Health and POPLPRAC754 Infant Child and Adolescent Mental Health. We are all grateful for the excellent job she has done in running and teaching these courses. She leaves us after two years in this position.
  • Welcome to Keryn Roberts who has taken up a 6-tenths position as Programme Administrator in the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care. Keryn is currently studying towards a PhD in Geography investigating the creation of “Western social spaces by English teachers in South Korea and Taiwan challenge discourses on Post colonialism and Globalization”. Her recent work experience from October 2013 was with Salvation Army Drug and Addiction Services/Hamilton as a Research Assistant, where Keryn was employed to implement a drug and alcohol addiction questionnaire. 
  • Welcome to Selena Armstrong who is taking on a 3-tenths position as Project Manager in the Goodfellow Unit. Selena has had previous experience as the National Project Office Manager with the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Australia, responsible for managing projects related to the Chartered Accountants Programme. Selena is a young mother with a busy life and her husband works in Australia and travels between the two countries fortnightly. She will work closely with the Director of the Goodfellow Unit, Bruce Arroll.
  • Congratulations to all those who graduated last week, particularly our PhD scholars: Neti Herman from Social and Community Health,  Giriraj Singh Shekhawat from Audiology and Natalie Gauld from General Practice and Primary Healthcare. 
  • Welcome to Anne Schanche Selbekk from Norway who has joined Social & Community Health for three months as a visitor and who is working on her PhD with Peter Adams focused on families and addiction.

Faculty Administrative Review (FAR)

  • The next milestones in the FAR process include: 3 June, the University Review Committee reports on feedback on University-level model and recommendations to senior University staff; 5 June, the Vice-Chancellor determines the final University model; 13 June, the Faculty Review Committees report on feedback on faculty-specific submissions and recommendations; 20 June, the Vice-Chancellor makes decision on Faculty recommendations; 3 July, the reassessment of impacts are completed; 14 July, the Confirmation Document is released.
  • The Dean has reported that Louise Nicholson who was admitted to hospital for a major illness and is now recovering well, but she remains in hospital. Roger Booth has replaced her as the FMHS representative on the FAR University Review Committee. Peggy McQuinn will be representing us on the FAR Faculty Review Committee.
  • Again, for those wishing to talk over the effects of FAR, four staff are available for appointments or informal discussions: Peter Huggard (84500), Shanthi Ameratunga (86354), David Newcombe (86557) and Bridget Kool (83871). The University also offers staff access to EAP (Employee Assistance Programme), which is a 24-hour confidential service providing advice and support for personal or work problems (0800 327 669).  

Development Issues

  • PhD endorsements: The Graduate Centre is reviewing the categories in which graduates are awarded doctoral degrees. Besides MDs, we have PhDs in four areas: General Practice; Audiology; Community Health; and Behavioural Science. Out of the two last labels, most recent candidates and graduates have opted for ‘Community Health’, however both labels do not appear to me ideal and I propose we scrap both ‘Community Health’ and ‘Behavioural Science’ and replace them with one endorsement, Population Health. Please indicate your views on this before we pass on any recommendations.
  •  SoPH Planning Day: Planning Day will take place later than usual this year, on 30 July, after Ngaire Kerse returns as Head of School so she can lead the planning. Those attending the day include heads of sections, directors and managers. As occurred last year, the day will have a facilitator who will help focus the day on a limited number of key areas. We are currently thinking the focus can be on three main areas:   1. Where SOPH fits in the research world, the aim is to collectively review the core ideas and then  look at what relationships are critical in the future for both University and UniServices research opportunities – and how these would be developed;  2. Retaining our integrity/keeping the Kaupapa, this priority was prompted by a background of pressure on fragmentation for the School, with new management structures, potentially shift back into city location and some questions over future positioning of General Practice; 3. Best way forward to advance Pacific health interests, many of the Pacific staff are not within the Pacific team but across the School and we need to look at what is the best way forward for the school to advance Pacific health interests. For each of these topics, we hope to run pre-event discussion groups to help inform our planning. All staff are encouraged to feed into this process through their heads and directors.  


Upcoming Events

  • Epidemiology & Biostatistics seminar: "The challenges of taking a 'life course approach' to a longitudinal study, and the opportunity to inform the policy agenda around 'vulnerable children'”, Associate Professor Susan Morton, Thursday 22 May, 12.30-1.30pm, Function Room 730-220, Tāmaki Innovation Campus.