By STUART DYE, education reporter
The vice-chancellor of Victoria University in Wellington will leave his post - to take the helm at Auckland University.
After a nine-month hunt cloaked in secrecy, the country's flagship university last night announced the appointment of Professor Stuart McCutcheon as its fifth vice-chancellor.
He will take over from January next year, succeeding Dr John Hood who is leaving to lead Oxford University in Britain.
The appointment process has been the subject of much speculation after the first recruitment drive was abandoned because of a lack of suitable candidates.
A senior panel of the university's governing council then travelled abroad in search of potential applicants for the $379,000-a-year role.
But Auckland University chancellor John Graham said Professor McCutcheon had beaten off competition from "several high-calibre" international candidates.
He said he was pleased to offer the position to a New Zealander who had the respect of the tertiary sector.
Professor McCutcheon had shown strong leadership skills in improving Victoria's fortunes since taking over in November 2000.
He has previously held senior positions at Massey University - his alma mater where he became deputy vice-chancellor in 1999.
In the 1980s, he was a postdoctoral fellow and visiting assistant professor in the department of animal science at Cornell University in New York.
Last night he said he was honoured to have been offered the position. "The University of Auckland is nationally and internationally acclaimed for the quality of its teaching and research," he said.
"I look forward to working with the council, staff, students and friends of the university to further enhance the reputation and achievements."
Outgoing vice-chancellor Dr Hood, who will become the first outsider to lead Oxford University, said Auckland was fortunate to gain a vice-chancellor of Professor McCutcheon's integrity, experience and academic background.
Peter Wills, president of the Auckland branch of the Association of University Staff, said the secrecy surrounding the appointment had made a mockery of the process.
The association was not consulted, said Dr Wills, leaving many staff very disappointed, although they were looking forward to meeting Professor McCutcheon.
Victoria's Students Association president Amanda Hill said that in light of current staff strikes and increases in international fees, students had little to be sorry about Professor McCutcheon's departure.
Students had passed a motion of no confidence in him.
PROFESSOR STUART MCCUTCHEON
Born in Wellington and attended Rongotai College, then Massey University.
Gained a bachelor's degree in Animal Science with first class honours (1977), followed by a PhD in metabolic physiology (1982).
Spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University in New York.
Returned to Massey in 1984 as lecturer in Animal Science, becoming professor and head of the department in 1990.
Was assistant vice-chancellor (research) from 1994-1999, before becoming deputy vice-chancellor in 1999.
Was appointed vice-chancellor of Victoria University in August 2000.
Has published around 100 articles in refereed journals, and author of numerous abstracts, chapters and conference proceedings.