Global Petition to retain academic at Otago Varsity

Venkat Raman – 

About 670 people from New Zealand and other parts of the world have signed a petition against the redundancy order issued to Jacqueline (Jacqui) Leckie, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Otago in Dunedin.

Ms Leckie was informed of her redundancy on December 12, 2016 with a notice of six months, which expires on July 4, 2017.

The petition, initiated by Anne Hattori, Associate Professor of Pacific History at the University of Guam (Humanities Division, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences) was addressed to the Otago University Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Tony Ballantyne.

Loss to Institution

The Petition requested the Vice-Chancellor and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor to continue the employment of Ms Leckie to enable her to carry on her “excellent work in line with the University’s Pacific and other priorities.

“This redundancy will be a loss to not only the Pacific community and the University’s international reputation but also to the teaching and future of anthropology at Otago,” the petitioners said.

Ms Leckie told Indian Newslink that she has been employed by the University for the past 28 years and that the redundancy was not her choice.

She said that she did not commence the Petition but has been ‘most humbled’ by the comments and support that she has thus far received from people.

Process Review

The Petition called for a review of the ‘Management of Change Process,’ overseen by Mr Ballantyne and finally endorsed by Ms Hayne.

It said that the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology is largely made up of latter and that the dismissal of Ms Leckie and another Anthropology colleague, would leave the Department with a severe imbalance of six Archaeologists and two Anthropologists.

“Jacqui’s skills heavily align with Otago’s Strategic Planning objectives. Specifically, Otago’s Pacific Strategic Framework seeks to consolidate and expand Otago-Pacific interactions and engagement. It therefore makes no sense to weaken them by removing one of the top Pacific specialists at Otago, and one well respected and very well connected across the region,” the Petition said.

Impressive achievements

As well as having been the Head of the Department for the past five years, Ms Leckie has an impressive record of research publications including two monographs, six edited books, seven edited journals, 76 chapters or articles and 35 other publications, all on topics relevant to the Pacific, New Zealand, and Asia.

She recently co-edited, ‘Migrant Cross-Cultural Encounters in Asia and the Pacific (Routledge, 2017), and is currently under contract with University of Hawai`i Press to publish her manuscript, ‘Colonising Madness in Fiji.’

Teaching Record

The Petition also cited Ms Leckie’s good teaching record, Postgraduate Supervision (including 17 PhD completions, five current PhDs, 12 postgraduates), and several Honours graduates in anthropology with specialisations in Pacific, New Zealand, and Asia.

Editor’s Note: Read related stories in this Section and under Businesslink. Jacqueline Leckie is the author of ‘Indian Settlers: The Story of New Zealand South Asian Community,’ a book commissioned by the New Zealand Indian Central Association and released in Parliament on Tuesday, November 13, 2007. The current NZICA President Bhikhu Bhana presented a copy of the Book to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Thursday, October 27, 2016.

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