Leading academic appointed Massey Vice-Chancellor


Professor Jan Thomas.


A veterinary scientist with an international reputation for her teaching, research and academic leadership will be the next vice-chancellor of Massey University.

Professor Jan Thomas is currently Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Australia.

Massey University Chancellor Chris Kelly says he is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Thomas after an international search to replace Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey, who is stepping down at the end of the year after eight years in the role.

Professor Thomas will be the sixth vice-chancellor to lead Massey University and the second woman, after Professor Judith Kinnear (2003-08).

She holds a Bachelor of Science in veterinary biology (1981), a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (1983), both from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia; a Master of Veterinary Studies in pathology from the University of Melbourne (1986) and a Doctor of Philosophy from Murdoch University (1997).

She has been in her current role since 2012. Prior to that she was Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Quality and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Fremantle at the University of Notre Dame Australia in Western Australia (2010-11) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic at Murdoch (2003-10). 

A Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, and a Member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, Professor Thomas participates nationally on a range of national and international committees. She is a member of the Quality Assurance Council Hong Kong and chairs the Managing Council for the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Mr Kelly says the decision by the Massey University Council, the governing body, to appoint Professor Thomas was unanimous. "All members of Council recognised Jan's exceptional qualities as a sector leader with a proven academic background. We are extremely pleased she has agreed to step into the role and continue the fantastic work done over the past eight years by Steve to deliver on a strategy based around globalisation, growth and academic excellence.

“Council agreed that among the attributes and requirements needed of a new vice-chancellor to succeed, were a proven academic background including being research-active and experienced at a senior level in a university environment. 

“Professor Thomas fulfils all these criteria and, in addition, will bring management level experience in a multi-campus environment that, like Massey, excels in distance education.”

Professor Thomas will join Massey on January 23, 2017. She says she is privileged to be taking up her role as Vice-Chancellor at such an important time for the University. 

“Massey University has always been highly regarded for its research excellence and to able to lead the university on the next stage of its development is an honour," Professor Thomas says. "Through its multiple campuses and distance education, Massey University serves New Zealand in a unique and important way. It is very exciting for me to be a part of that and to be able to work with such dedicated and committed staff towards achieving an exciting future. I plan to amplify the university’s research excellence, and promote a real world learning experience for students to prepare them to lead in the rapidly transforming workforce of the future."    

About Massey University

  • Massey University was founded as an agricultural college in Palmerston North in 1927.
  • A University since 1964, it has had campuses in Auckland (at Albany) since 1993 and Wellington since 1999.
  • It has five colleges – Business, Creative Arts, Health, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Sciences.
  • It is Australasia's leading university provider of distance education, with 14,000 of the 32,000 students it enrolled last year studying by distance.
  • There were 4400 international students enrolled in 2015.
  • It has just over 3100 full-time equivalent staff, 1100 of them academics
  • Total operating revenue of $450 million a year and assets valued in excess of $1 billion.
  • The University Council comprises 11 members, four by Ministerial appointment, two staff of the university – one academic, one professional – elected by peers and one student representative elected by students.

For more information about Massey University

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