Graduation familiar for new chancellor

LUCY TOWNEND L
Last updated 12:00 17/12/2013

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Massey University's new chancellor, Chris Kelly, is a familiar face in a different place, but he still comes armed with an enthusiasm for the tertiary institute.

Mr Kelly, who joined the University Council in August 2005, became the pro chancellor, similar to the deputy chair of the council, in July last year.

He was promoted to chancellor this month, replacing Russ Ballard, who was chancellor for five years.

Michael Ahie becomes pro chancellor in Mr Kelly's place.

Stepping into the chancellor's position was similar to taking up the reins as chairman of the board, and the promotion had been on the cards, he said.

After only a few weeks in the position, Mr Kelly has already shaken hundreds of hands at Massey University's 50th veterinary graduation ceremony last week, before being presented with the Massey University Veterinary 50-year Anniversary medal himself.

It was a humbling experience on his first official outing, he said.

Mr Kelly is a graduate of Massey's five-year vet course, and was a farm animal veterinary surgeon for 16 years before becoming a Dairy Board manager and then the chief executive of government farming company Landcorp, a position he held for 12 years before stepping down in June.

In his time with Landcorp he oversaw massive growth, with the business's value booming from $500 million to $1.6 billion and a return of more than $450m to its Crown shareholders.

But such colossal changes aren't on the cards for Massey just yet.

"It's a big institution and there are a lot of major decisions to be made that we're treating very seriously," he said.

Bringing Massey's campus buildings up to speed with earthquake standards is one of them, and the capital spending involved in that is taking some careful management.

Other variables include the growth of technology and the increasing number of international students, as well as the demands of making Massey known on the world stage.

"There's nothing specific that I can point to that will have a complete U-turn but we do have some challenges in front of us," he said.

"We tend to be going away from bricks and mortar and more to the online learning environment . . . universities have been around for hundreds of years, but we need to increase the urgency for [adapting to] the pace of change."

Mr Kelly said people should look out for some exciting ventures next year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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