Embrace change

By Steve Maharey

Vice-chancellor Steve Maharey captivates his audience

All good things must come to an end

All good things must come to an end. And so it is that after what will be a little more than eight years with Massey University I have advised the Council that I intend to step down at the end of the year.

With some months to go and such a lot yet to do, it is too early to come to any conclusions about my time at Massey. But it is not too soon to be considering what the University is achieving.

Massey is New Zealand’s most important and relevant university. It began as an agricultural college populated by talented staff and students who through their teaching, research and willingness to engage with the community changed New Zealand for the better.

They began the history of which we are so proud today. It is a history of firsts that can be found in the way we have led teaching and research in areas as diverse as business, public health, veterinary medicine, food technology, Ma-ori studies, social work, teaching, design, disaster management – the list goes on. Everything we have done has had an impact on New Zealand.

Being first academically has gone alongside a bold, “can do”, innovative attitude that has seen Massey lead in distance learning, establish three major campuses, recruit thousands of international First word Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey writes. students, commercialise its intellectual property, run farms all over the North Island, move off-shore and launch, very recently, its worldwide initiative.

As Massey alumni you will have your favourite “first” or development that has captured your attention over the years. It would be interesting to hear what you remember most about your university.

Whatever has inspired you I hope you will agree that Massey has never, as Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Stewart once noted, “conformed to the standard pattern”. Rather, we have embraced change. Long may that spirit continue.

It will need to. Universities are set to change significantly in the 21st century. The old model of higher education is giving way to the new, driven by major forces like globalisation, the knowledge economy, rising costs, new technology, cultural shifts and competition.

Mr. Maharey with staff on Auckland campus

In the years ahead, the goal must be to realise the potential of what has been begun.

Massey, like all other universities, will need to renew itself while remaining true to what has made it great. In the past eight years it has been our aim to prepare ourselves for the opportunities and challenges to come.

This has not been an easy task because the funding and policy environment has not always been as supportive of change as it will need to be. We have, however, managed to put in place “the bones” of what will be required of a 21st-century university. In the years ahead, the goal must be to realise the potential of what has been begun.

I believe that Massey staff are more than up to meeting the challenges ahead of them. But they will need the enthusiastic support of the wider Massey family. At the moment the Alumni Relations Office tells me they can reach around 130,000 of the over 300,000 Massey graduates. That is a big family and it is spread not just around New Zealand but also around the world.

The tradition of alumni supporting their university is very strong in countries like the United States. That same culture needs to build around Massey because of our importance to the nation.

It is our intention to shape the future of the nation and take the best of New Zealand to the world. What we do is good not just for us but also for the country in which we are so strongly embedded.

I hope you feel the same sense of pride in Massey as I do. Over many years I have been a student, an academic and the ViceChancellor at Massey.

It is in my blood. I hope it is in yours too.

All the very best.