Welcome to the April issue of our newsletter for 2019.
I do not feel able to write this welcome without acknowledging the tragic events in Christchurch on March 15. As a relatively recent arrival here one thing is clear: as well as the terrible impact on the victims, their loved ones and on the wider Muslim community, these events signal the end of something in New Zealand. We no longer get to think that such atrocities “don’t happen here”, or to not acknowledge that our minority communities face rising discrimination. In the face of such horror, if there is something to take consolation from it is that the people of New Zealand’s reaction to these cowardly actions – intended to sow discord and division – indicates that they have had precisely the opposite effect.
April 1 2019 marks my fifth anniversary as Head. It is sometimes said that it takes five years to see organisational change, and it is worth taking a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come. In 2014-19, we have: converted from a department to a school, undergone OCANZ reaccreditation and review of both school and clinic, maintained patient numbers while closing the Tamaki clinic, converted (nearly) all PTFs to permanent appointments, performed a major reorganisation of professional staff, greatly expanded school screening, introduced a placement programme, and drastically reorganised our curriculum to bring clinical training further into Part II. All this while maintaining a steady flow of high quality research supported by HRC, MBIE, Marsden and other agencies. I have enjoyed the challenges that have come with each of these achievements. However a careful reader will note that pretty much all of this work on this list was done by people who are not me. This is true. Our staff’s commitment – to the students, to research and to the school – means they always go the extra mile. It is this commitment that has allowed us to achieve what we have in the last five years and I thank the staff for it.
Another innovation since the last newsletter has been the pop-up clinic run on central campus. This has proven a great success with around 280 patients being seen in 19 days. Feedback from staff and students has been uniformly positive and we are exploring running another such clinic in the near future.
Finally a reminder to register for the SOVS conference on June 16 (details at www.sovsconference.org.nz). It’s set to be a good one.
Professor Steven Dakin
Head of School, Optometry and Vision Science
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences