New head for College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Professor Cynthia White


Massey University has appointed Professor Cynthia White as College of Humanities and Social Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor.

An internationally-respected applied linguistics scholar, Professor White has been the college’s research director for the past seven years.

Professor White was awarded her PhD in applied linguistics at Massey and has been working at the University since 1983. From 2009 to 2012, as head of the School of Linguistics and International Languages, Professor White pioneered a highly-successful initiative to deliver Massey’s Spanish programme to students at Australia’s University of New England and the University of Western Sydney.

Since 2012, she has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of New England and is a member of the Marsden Fund Council, where she is the chair of the Humanities Panel.

The appointment followed an international search. University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says Professor White has established herself as a leader in her field and will bring a deep commitment to innovation. “To be able to make such an important appointment from within our own ranks speaks volumes about the calibre of our alumni and staff,” Professor Thomas says.

“Professor White brings to the role an international reputation as a researcher, scholar and innovative practitioner, as well as a passion for the unique character and further potential of our University.”

Professor White has published three books and more than 60 articles. Her research interests include strategies, emotion, innovation and identity in online and distance language learning, language and settlement issues for immigrants and refugees and, more recently, agency and emotion in narrative accounts of conflict.

Professor White says: “It is an honour to be able to lead the college into the next exciting phase of our history and work with staff and colleagues to maintain Massey’s position as a truly innovative university with a reputation for teaching excellence and research.”

The college is one of five at Massey, with more than 600 staff and more than 12,000 students. It comprises seven departments – the Centre for Defence and Security Studies, the Institute of Education, the School of English and Media Studies, the School of Humanities, the Te Pūtahi-a-Toi School of Māori Knowledge, the School of People, Environment and Planning and the School of Psychology.

Professor White will take up her new position on August 12. She succeeds Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley who stepped down last month to refocus on research and writing.

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