Category Archives: Alumni


This Tuesday 16 June marked 147 years of UC history. To celebrate our Foundation Day, we’re spending this week reflecting on the triumphs of some of our legends.

A climate warrior who pioneered the notion of migration with dignity to avoid the people of Kiribati becoming climate refugees.

Born in Tabuaeran, Line Islands, he served as President of Kiribati from 2003 until 2016 and is primarily known for his efforts to raise global awareness of the threat posed by climate change.

In 2014, Tong directed Kiribati’s purchase of 20 square kilometres of land in Fiji as a contingency refuge for his people, whose atoll nation rises a mere two metres above sea level and could well be submerged within a few decades. For this, he has been dubbed as a ‘climate warrior’, pioneering the notion of ‘migration with dignity’ to avoid the people of Kiribati becoming climate refugees.

His other environmental initiatives include calling for a global moratorium on the use of coal in 2015 and overseeing the creation of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area – the largest protected marine area in the world, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – PIPA.

He was awarded the 2015 Sunhak Peace Prize, the Leadership Award from the Hillary Institute of International Leadership, the Peter Benchley Ocean Award, the Order of Brilliant Jade by the President of Taiwan and the David B Stone Award by the New England Aquarium Foundation.

Interested to learn more? Check out the rest of our legends here>

Supporting our students through COVID19


Since the nationwide lockdown was announced,  UC staff members from across the University have been asking how they can support students experiencing financial hardship because of COVID19.

In response to this outpouring of goodwill, the UC Foundation established the Emergency Student Relief Fund. This Fund is helping students in need of immediate financial assistance.

So far over $6,000 has been donated by staff and alumni around the world. The commitment to our UC community has been remarkable. The UC Foundation would like to recognise the staff members who are making a difference to our students’ wellbeing.  If you’re able and would like to contribute, your support would mean so much to students experiencing financial hardship. 

The Emergency Student Relief Fund is helping students access hardship grants to cover essential bills like rent and wifi to access online learning. Foodbank grants are also available to students in need.

Donations are being channelled through the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team. They’re doing an outstanding job connecting students to the many channels of support available to them.

The Postgraduate Office is also working with the UC Foundation to make hardship grants available for self-funded UC doctoral candidates needing short-term emergency support. The Kopa Iti grant is available to PhD candidates who have exhausted all other financial options.

If you know any students in need of financial assistance, please encourage them to contact the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team to find out if they qualify for support. 

Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution to the Emergency Student Relief Fund. You are making a difference.

If you have any questions, please contact

Remembering Emeritus Professor Kenneth Strongman

Many staff and alumni of the University of Canterbury will be saddened to hear of the death of Emeritus Professor Kenneth Strongman on 29 December 2019. After completing his PhD at University College London in 1964, and taking up positions as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, he was appointed as Professor of Psychology at the University of Canterbury in 1979, where he remained for 41 years. He was Head of the Department of Psychology from 1982 to 1997, and subsequently Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Arts and Assistant Vice Chancellor (Government & Community Relations). He became Professor Emeritus on his retirement in 2010 but continued to contribute actively to academic life, including seeing the humanities included within the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Ken achieved wide recognition for his extensive academic research, teaching and service. His research was principally in the field of emotions. His text “The Psychology of Emotion” ran through five editions and was widely cited. Ken also edited the first international collection of essays (1991) in a field that was only just emerging. His undergraduate students remember him for his clear and easy lecturing style. The many PhD students he successfully supervised remember him for his insight, his endless encouragement and patience, and the genuine pleasure he took in their achievements. As a psychologist he always insisted on the discipline’s historic dual place as both a science and an art, and its application to everyday life.

A lifelong believer in the role of academics in society more broadly, Ken took on numerous roles outside the university. He was active in the university teachers’ union. His activities in Christchurch included chairing the Arts Centre management board and extensive writing for The Press, especially as a television and book reviewer. He regularly gave public lectures to audiences on a wide variety of topics. An avid squash player for much of his academic life, he will be missed by colleagues and friends from across the University, New Zealand, and the world.

Emeritus Professor Brian Haig, Professor Simon Kemp, Nathan Consedine