Longtime Otago Polytechnic executive says school’s future looks bright

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Chris Morland, Deputy Chief Executive Learner Experience Otago Polytechnic, is retiring Friday, January 28, ending four decades of experience in the higher education sector, including the past 17 years on the Dunedin campus.

Arriving in Dunedin in 2004 from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, where he held various positions for 20 years, Chris experienced many changes during his time at Otago Polytechnic.

Lured south by a position as director of the former Otago Institute of Sport, Chris found that Otago Polytechnic’s reputation for quality professional education was evident on many levels.

A few years later, he was promoted to Group Director within a relatively small management team headed by then-General Manager Phil Ker; this team grew steadily until 2016, when a large-scale management restructuring saw the management structure cut in half.

“As a result, my portfolio and responsibilities expanded and all teaching departments reported to me,” Chris explains. “The logic was to integrate the learner journey (or student support systems and services) alongside the academic journey and delivery.

“I have seen various changes at Otago Polytechnic over the years. But one thing that has always remained strong is the quality of our delivery.

“I think it’s in the DNA of this place. It’s a common thread that runs through the staff, through their professionalism, their passion and their commitment. I believe it was there when I arrived in 2004 and I’d like to think I played a small part in helping to make sure it stayed strong.

“I also think innovation is another common thread at Otago Polytechnic.

“Part of it has to do with our ability and willingness to engage with industry sectors; part of it is that we approach things differently. Take, for example, our Capable NZ programs, which provide alternative pathways to qualifications for experienced adults who are in the workplace.”

Chris believes the culture of Otago Polytechnic will remain strong as it continues its transition as an affiliate of Te Pūkenga, the national network of Polytechnics and Transition Industry Training Organizations (TITOs).

“The framework created by Otago Polytechnic positions it well for the future. I also believe that the consultative and collaborative approach Te Pūkenga takes to engage closely with the sector creates strong building blocks.

“For example, the focus on the learner, putting them at the forefront of all thinking, is to be applauded – as is the focus on lifting and strengthening our commitments to the Treaty of Waitangi and our partnerships with iwi.

“This is a very interesting and exciting time in higher education in New Zealand.”

Looking to the future, on a more personal note, Chris looks forward to retirement.

Although he will still have a small role as assessor for Able NZ, he hopes the majority of his time will be spent with his wife, Ellen, and a family network that includes six grandchildren.

Occasionally spotted on a Segway he’s used to get around between meetings, including to and fro through the green expanse of Dunedin’s Logan Park, Chris has his sights set on new forms of “wheel estate” – most likely a caravan or motorhome in which he and Ellen can roam the highways and roads of New Zealand “while we can”.

Other plans include gardening, a fishing trip and spending time at the “mighty” Roslyn Bowling Club.

“We also both have e-bikes, so we’re dangerous!”

[-Te Pūkenga was
established to better meet the needs of learners and
employers by bringing together on-job, on-campus and online
learning across Aotearoa New Zealand. By 1 January 2023, Te
Pūkenga will create a unified, sustainable public network
of regionally accessible vocational and applied learning.
Otago Polytechnic is a part of Te
Pūkenga.]

© Scoop Media

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