Otago selects leading historian as its next Head of Humanities

The University of Otago has selected Professor Tony Ballantyne as its next Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities). Professor Ballantyne is currently Head of Otago’s Department of History and Art History and Director of the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture.

Announcing the appointment, which was made after an international search, Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said she is delighted that Professor Ballantyne has been chosen to lead the Division of Humanities at Otago. “Tony Ballantyne has an international reputation as an outstanding history researcher, as well as a record as a collegial and engaging leader.   He is well placed to take the helm of this key Division of the University and build upon its internationally-recognised strength in teaching and research.  At a time when the value of the Humanities is constantly being questioned, Professor Ballantyne is the ideal person to remind New Zealand about the cultural, civic, and economic value of research and education in Humanities subjects.”

Otago’s Division of Humanities spans many key disciplines in the Arts and Social Science. It comprises twelve academic departments, the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, the Faculty of Law, Te Tumu (the School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies) and the University of Otago College of Education. It is responsible for approximately 5000 equivalent full-time students and 450 staff.

Professor Ballantyne says he is greatly looking forward to stepping into the Pro-Vice-Chancellor role from October 2015. “The Humanities Division at Otago is well known for its world-class researchers, its dynamic teachers and its highly-skilled graduates who do so much good work in the world.  It is also well-recognised for outstanding professional schools in Law and Education.”

“I am very excited about the prospect of supporting our very diverse academic units in their work and in building upon the Division’s tradition of excellence. I am also committed to extending the Division’s links beyond the University, to schools, professional bodies, government, the business sector, iwi (especially Ngai Tahu Whanui), to our city of Dunedin, the wider Otago and Southland region, and beyond.”

Professor Ballantyne grew up in Dunedin and after attending King’s High School, he enrolled at Otago, graduating with a BA (Hons) in History in 1993. He was awarded a Prince of Wales Scholarship to undertake a PhD at University of Cambridge, which he gained in 1999. Before returning to Otago to join the Department of History and Art History in 2002, he held faculty positions at the National University of Ireland and the University of Illinois.

His research has examined the development of imperial intellectual and cultural life in Ireland, India, New Zealand and Britain. He has authored four books and co-authored one, all published by leading international presses. In addition to producing more than 50 journal articles and book chapters, he has edited or co-edited seven collections of essays. Professor Ballantyne is considered a key figure internationally in shaping the ‘new imperial history’ movement and he pioneered the ‘webs of empire’ methodology for writing histories of colonialism.

In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, an honour given to researchers for showing exceptional distinction in research or in the advancement of science, technology or the humanities. That same year he was appointed Head of the Department of History and Art History and also became founding Director of the University’s Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, which is one of Otago’s 14 recognised flagship research centres.

Professor Ballantyne will succeed Professor Brian Moloughney, who is stepping down after leading the Division of Humanities for a five-year term. Professor Hayne warmly thanked Professor Moloughney for his dedicated leadership and service to the University. He will join the Department of History and Art History in a teaching and research role.

Congratulations Tony, from the NZHA!