Avondale appoints new president

Professor Petrie.

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Avondale University College has appointed a new vice-chancellor and president after its council completed a “vigorous” four-month process of application, interview, discussion and vote yesterday (March 24).

Professor Kevin Petrie brings to the role an understanding not only of higher education but also of the way it is being provided at Avondale. He served until yesterday afternoon as dean of the Faculty of Education, Business and Science and previously as a lecturer and senior lecturer in and head of the School of Education. And he is an alumnus of Avondale, having graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Primary) in 1995 and a Master of Education in 2002.

An interest in school bullying, school climate, peer popularity, classroom management, teacher education and mentoring has informed Professor Petrie’s research. As has professional experience predominantly within the New Zealand school system as a primary teacher and principal. A move to Melbourne saw Professor Petrie complete a Doctor of Education while working part-time at La Trobe University.

Chancellor Pastor Glenn Townend describes the new president as a listener with a “calm . . . but determined” style but notes that the impact of the coronavirus will challenge his leadership.

“I have already prayed for Kevin in his new role and wished him God’s full blessing,” writes Pastor Townend in an email to staff members and students. “I encourage you to do the same.”

Professor Petrie encourages staff members and students to bring the qualities of flexibility and tenacity as part of Avondale’s “alert and agile” response to the pandemic. “I’d also encourage the value of trust. The staff members genuinely have the students’ best interests at heart and will be doing everything possible to ensure they’re well supported and can complete a successful academic year. Above all, it’s important for us to place our trust in a God who reads the future as easily as He does the past.”

The future at Avondale will be influenced by eight indicators Professor Petrie is using to measure his performance as leader: facilitating the faith journey of students; achieving financial sustainability; providing service learning opportunities for every student; maintaining processes that benchmark excellence; aligning excellence and mission in academic endeavours; demonstrating positive culture and climate; becoming a centre for wellbeing; and achieving university status.

His vision for Avondale: to transform students who then go and transform their communities. “If you’re passionate about something, you can’t hold it back. If vision is not part of my thinking on a daily basis, I’ve lost the plot.”

Professor Petrie replaces Dr Ray Roennfeldt, who announced his retirement on November 4 after 11 years in the role.

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