Before reflecting on the challenges and achievements of 2006, I would like to pay a tribute to Dame Te Atairangikaahu who will be forever in our hearts as an inspiring friend of this University.
Following my election as Chancellor in March 2006, I was given a mandate to further strengthen the Council's governance role through closer "engagement" with the University and stakeholders. This overview sets out to explain what being an "engaged" Council means in practice.
However, first, let me comment on the current situation and the future prospects of the University of Waikato. The University is making excellent progress under the leadership of its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Crawford. In his first year in the role, Professor Crawford consulted widely and gained a clear consensus around his Vision for the University. In this his second year, he has maintained a strong strategic focus, producing a high-level Strategic Plan. In this endeavour, the Vice-Chancellor was supported by a very capable senior management team fully focused on developing Strategy to implement the Vision.
The results for 2006 are encouraging. The University exceeded its financial targets and achieved major change initiatives. By having a focus on the distinctiveness of our degree offerings, we aim to create points of difference that are relevant to the region and are attractive to students.
The surplus gives us confidence to proceed with major projects designed to add vibrancy to the campus. We are delighted that Hamilton City is gaining national recognition as a dynamic place to live and do business. We believe the University contributes significantly socially as well as economically to making the Waikato attractive and an excellent centre for study and research.
In 2006, Council set itself three Governance Goals - to produce a Governance Charter; to become more engaged with stakeholders; and to review our Constitution (membership).
The Governance Charter is reproduced in full in the next section of this Annual Report. As is the practice in leading companies, the Council makes a public commitment to the standards and processes described in the Charter. Council sees this as a living document to be continuously refined.
This Council will front-up to stakeholders - a key component of being "engaged". This year we engaged in a new way with students to discuss the proposed fees increase. Council has also engaged directly with the Bay of Plenty community and has endorsed the commitment of the Vice-Chancellor to providing a "full university experience in Tauranga".
During the coming year, I look forward to increased discussion with key stakeholders as we search for ways to advance important collaborative initiatives. Of particular importance to the University is the ongoing development of our relationship with Tainui, and close dialogue about opportunities to collaborate in support of shared objectives.
Another aspect of Council engagement is evaluating the Government's tertiary education reforms and the University's response to those reforms. The reforms are significant and Council has recognised that the "investing in a plan" approach will have implications for the University of Waikato's future growth strategies.
Council's third goal was to review its constitution - the new constitution is detailed in the Governance Charter (Principle 2) which follows this report. Although a Council of 18 members is large by commercial standards, Council chose to retain its size but substitute two co-options for positions which had been reserved for the Mayor of Hamilton and a representative of the Tertiary Education Alliance. This does not signal any change in the importance to the University of those relationships; rather that the University will continue to work closely with those parties on areas of mutual interest. The two extra co-opted positions will allow Council to strengthen its networks and capabilities in a more flexible way.
Coinciding with the constitutional changes, several Council members have come to the end of their term. Shane Solomon's term as a co-opted member has expired. Michael Redman (Mayor of Hamilton) and Dr Alan Hampton (CEO of Bay of Plenty Polytechnic) will continue to make their valued contribution directly rather than through Council. We are farewelling Professor Terry Healy, Sally Sleigh, Robb Parton, Materoa Dodd and welcoming Professor Barry Barton, Tony Dicks and Dr Apirana Mahuika.
I acknowledge the outstanding contributions of those who are moving on. They have all left their mark in different ways and their colleagues and I appreciate their selfless efforts to discern the right way forward.
My special thanks are reserved for my predecessor as Chancellor, John Gallagher. John is the elder statesman of the Council and the University is fortunate that he has assumed the role of Chair of the University of Waikato Foundation Board of Trustees.
In conclusion, I would like to note that the University is in good heart. It has an able management team which is working assiduously to ensure the University serves students and all of its communities of interest well. I have every confidence that in 2007 the University of Waikato will continue to advance towards its vision for the future.