New Zealander could
make history at Oxford
Wednesday, 18 June 2003
Oxford University today nominated New Zealander John Hood as its next vice-chancellor - the first to be chosen from outside the university in its 900-year history.
The choice of Dr Hood, currently vice-chancellor of the University of Auckland, will have to be approved by the university's Congregation - the dons' "parliament" - before taking over next year from Sir Colin Lucas. A former Rhodes scholar at Oxford, he has spent most of his career in industry, where he rose to senior management in one of New Zealand's largest companies (Fletcher Challenge).
Under Sir Colin, Oxford has gone through a period of major internal reform more successfully than its ancient rival Cambridge, where changes to the governing structure were rebuffed by academics, but the university has continued to be buffeted by adverse publicity and ministers' criticism since its rejection of Tyneside comprehensive student Laura Spence.
Student admissions will be an immediate issue for the new vice-chancellor, as Dr Hood acknowledged. "Although I expect that the greatest immediate challenge that Oxford will face in 2004 will result from UK national legislation following the white paper that was published earlier this year, there is also much important work to be done building on the impressive governance foundations that Sir Colin has laid. I shall strive to maximise the potential that the university's substantial programme of major capital developments offers to ensure that Oxford retains its place as one of the few truly world-class universities," he said.
"I am humbled to have been invited to lead Oxford, one of the world's great universities. It will be a privilege to work with the university's internationally-renowned scholars and its global community of students and alumni," he added.
The initial period of appointment is five years, with the possibility of renewal for a further two years.
A graduate of the University of Auckland, Dr Hood spent two years at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar at Worcester College in the late 1970s, where he obtained an MPhil in management studies. On his return to his native New Zealand he taught civil engineering at Auckland for several years. Dr Hood then entered industry, where he worked until his appointment as vice-chancellor of the University of Auckland four years ago. There he has overseen a period of reorganisation. He is also chairman of Universitas21, a worldwide group of universities, and a member of the Council of The University of Melbourne. Dr Hood is married with three teenage children and his main leisure interests include the arts and various sports.
Dr Hood's nomination by the university's ruling council must be approved by Congregation, which consists of more than 3,200 members of the university's academic and senior research, library, museum and administrative staff. A committee of elected senior members of the university, chaired by an external member of the university's council, Sir Victor Blank, recommended Dr Hood after conducting an open recruitment exercise and world-wide search.