The University of Waikato 50th Anniversary

Our People: Vice-Chancellors

The University of Waikato has had four vice-chancellors in its 50-year history.

Sir Don Llewellyn

Vice-Chancellor 1964 - 1984

The University of Waikato officially came into being on 1 January 1964, and one of the first jobs on the to-do list was to appoint a Vice-Chancellor. A special committee interviewed three candidates and chose Dr Donald Llewellyn who was based at the University of Auckland. He had been chair of chemistry there, but had become more and more drawn to administration and, as he put it "making things happen".

Once at Waikato, the new Vice-Chancellor set about making several key appointments, and worked to get a building programme underway. In 1965, when the university opened to students, there was a big celebration, crowded with local and national dignitaries, including the Governor-General Sir Bernard Fergusson. Two years later at the first University of Waikato graduation ceremony, the Governor-General was conferred an honorary doctorate and he gifted his extensive collection of Māori taonga to the University.

Dr Llewellyn said a university wasn't a proper university if it didn't offer science. "Give me a fixed sum of money and I will build you a School of Science more cheaply than you have ever seen before," he said in the late 1960s, and despite opposition from established universities, he got the go ahead to proceed and did get four buildings (C, D, E and F blocks) for the price of three.

Professor John McCraw said Sir Don was "scrupulously honest but not above a little deviousness, especially when dealing with officials".

He dealt with many challenges during his 20 years as Vice-Chancellor, slowly but surely building a university of world-standing. He was a towering figure in Waikato University's history and development.


Wilfred Malcolm

Vice-Chancellor 1985 - 1994

Professor Wilfred Malcolm, took over a university that was 20 years old, so the challenges he faced were quite different from his predecessor. His focus was expansion. A mathematician, Professor Malcolm liked structure and formal decision-making procedures. He saw his role as one of review, planning and development, rather than day-to-day administration.

He wanted to increase the size and range of programmes and notched up a number of firsts. After a hard-fought struggle, the University opened the Law School. Waikato became the first university in New Zealand to join with its local Teachers' College and this amalgamation further increased what was already a strong research culture in the field of education and continues to this day, often influencing curriculum design and change nationally and internationally. The Centre for Women's Studies opened in 1991.

The Language Institute also opened in 1991 to provide language tuition for international students and in the same year, the University appointed its first writer in residence – Tessa Duder.

In 1992, the new Waikato Management School Building opened OTR (over the road) and WMS offered its first MBA programme.

Professor Malcolm had personal and strategic interest in developing greater partnerships with Māori. He learned to speak te reo, and with other staff made annual trips to marae around the region. A degree offered totally in te reo, Te Tohi Paetahi, began in 1990 and by 1992 a proposal was drawn up for the creation of a School of Māori and Pacific Development.

The Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research was named after Professor Malcolm.


Bryan Gould

Vice-Chancellor 1994 - 2004

Searching for its third Vice-Chancellor, the University Council wanted someone who was a skilled communicator, had a strong personal profile – able to raise the profile of the University at home and overseas. From a long list, New Zealander and British Labour MP Bryan Gould became the preferred candidate; his interviews carried out in strict secrecy so as not to affect his political career.

He accepted the job offer from Waikato and joined the University aiming to increase efficiencies and find additional sources of income.

Under his leadership, the Academy of Performing Arts was designed and built, the School of Māori and Pacific Development opened and marae graduations moved onto campus. In 1995 Professor Gould shepherded the University through the process of returning to Tainui the lands on which it stands, and a year later the University adopted its new crest with the Latin motto replaced by a Maori one – Ko Te Tangata (For the People).

During the Gould decade, the Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design was offered for the first time, the School of Engineering opened, courses began in Tauranga and there was a much greater focus on internationalisation including more international student enrolments and stronger links and alliances with quality organisations overseas.

In sport, he instigated the annual rowing eights "Great Race" that continues to attract crews from top universities in the UK, USA and Australia.

"The profile the University enjoys today is in no small part the result of Bryan Gould's leadership as Vice-Chancellor," said former Chancellor John Jackman when Mr Gould was conferred an honorary doctorate by the University in 2006.


Roy Crawford

Vice-Chancellor 2005 - 2014

Professor of mechanical engineering Roy Crawford came to the University of Waikato in 2005 with a strong research profile and a desire to drive an agenda of academic excellence. He had previously worked at the University of Auckland and Queens University Belfast.

During his initial years he developed a clear strategy for the University to deliver excellence in an international context. This was based on having the best people in every key role and providing them with state-of-the art facilities, support systems and financial stability. A strong theme of his leadership was bringing the best from the international stage to support the needs of the region.

During his time at the University Waikato, Professor Crawford has overseen major building programmes, increased research capability and enabled the University to forge strong links with the community. The introduction of initiatives such as the Distinguished Alumni Awards and Visiting Distinguished Professorships has helped the region appreciate the achievements of the University and its contribution to the local economy.

The most significant building projects were the $30 million Student Centre; the development of the 'lake shops' to become the social heart of the campus, and a new Law and Management building is due for completion in 2015. In Tauranga, a tertiary education partnership was formalised with the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and subsequently Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi and Waiariki Polytechnic joined to create a unique alliance of tertiary institutions. A new campus with strong regional support is planned for the CBD in Tauranga to provide educational opportunities for students in the Bay of Plenty and give the University of Waikato a new impetus in the extremely competitive international student market. The Coastal Marine Research Field Station at Sulphur Point in Tauranga opened in 2011 and has become established very quickly as a major national and international facility.

Our community links have been strengthened with the University now a strategic partner at National Agricultural Fieldays and the tertiary partner for the new Avantidrome in Cambridge - the National Cycling Centre of Excellence. Coupled with that, the introduction of Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships in 2005 as full-fees scholarships for high performing students in the arts and sports has enabled the University to attract high numbers of high calibre students.

On the academic front, there has been a focus on research that helps drive innovation and entrepreneurship, which has seen a growing importance in the establishment of Research Institutes and Centres, large interdisciplinary teams and more consultation with end-users. There are now six research institutes spread across campus focussed on supporting world-class research in environmental science, demography and economic analysis, Māori and indigenous development, business and leadership, professional learning and development and education. The University's commercial arm was moved from the Innovation Park onto campus to ensure a close working relationship with academics.

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