University boss plans to move into consulting

17:00, Jun 23 2014
Roy Crawford
Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford will retire in December.

Waikato University's vice-chancellor is retiring after 10 years, but don't expect him to take it easy.

Professor Roy Crawford is the university's fourth vice-chancellor and will step down on December 31.

After some travelling with his wife, the Irishman will be seeking consulting or advisory work in his research area of manufacturing in plastics.

"I couldn't just sit and read all day or go for walks. I want to keep my mind active. I want to keep busy."

Most of Crawford's career was at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

He also had a stint at Auckland University, and stepped into his current role at Waikato in 2004.


"It was clear that there were really good people here. When the opportunity arose to provide leadership for the university, I jumped at it," he said.

This year he is leading the university through its 50th anniversary.

As vice-chancellor he is responsible for "everything that goes on", and keeping a firm hand on the rudder so the university is focused on where it needs to go.

His replacement will need patience, academic credibility and time to "take stock" of the university before making changes, he said.

Crawford will be leaving with fond memories including the "quite special" marae graduations, the buzzing campus area around the lakes, and the achievement of having the university ranked among the top 50 under-50-year-old institutions around the world.

As for all those universities, funding is a challenge.

"Governments have got very tight budgets and they're always working out priorities," Crawford said.

"New Zealand does amazingly well for a very small country of only 4.6 million, to be able to compete on the world stage. It's just amazing the value that New Zealand gets from each dollar."

Yet our investment per student was lagging behind other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, he said, and support from past students or community members was becoming more important.

"You couldn't survive without it [the philanthropy]," he said.

This could be scholarships or building works, such as the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. Appointing a new vice-chancellor is the task of the university council, and it aims to have the new appointee in place from January 1.

When Crawford was appointed 10 years ago, the process took around six months. A sub-group of council members chaired by the chancellor Jim Bolger has been set up and is currently working on a brief.

The Education Act states a vice-chancellor is effectively a chief executive for the university, responsible for managing the academic and administrative affairs.

Waikato Times