Professor Max Abbott wins top accolade

19 Oct, 2018
Professor Max Abbott

A pioneer in mental and public health research and advocacy, Professor Max Abbott was last night announced as this year’s recipient of AUT’s University Medal.

Part of the annual AUT Excellence Awards, which recognises and celebrates excellence in the University’s community, the Medal is awarded for sustained and exceptional academic achievement.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Professor Abbott is a sought after and well-respected social commentator in the fields of addictions, public health and mental health, both here and overseas. He has authored over 400 books, chapters, journal articles and research reports. Last year alone he gave plenary presentations at two international World Health Organisation seminars along with 11 other opening or plenary addresses at national and international conferences.

During his 27 years at AUT Professor Abbott has led transformations across his faculty, and AUT as a whole, including substantial growth in staff and student numbers, and the expansion of research and postgraduate programmes.

Under his leadership, the Faculty has become the country’s largest and most diverse health science education provider, the leading sport science provider and a significant provider of biological and environmental science education. It has over 7000 students, five dedicated schools and five research institutes.  Professor Abbott founded and co-directs the National Institute for Public Health and Mental Health Research and directs two of its centres.

Professor Abbott was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the 2016 New Year Honours list for his outstanding services to health, science and education. His significant contributions in gambling, addictions, mental health and migrant health research have helped shape policy and positively impacted New Zealand communities.

His work has been recognised by numerous awards including New Zealand Psychological Society biennial award ‘Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest’ and the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.

Prior to becoming Dean in 1991, Professor Abbott was the founding National Director of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, a position he held for ten years. During his presidency of the World Federation for Mental Health (1991 – 1993) he also co-chaired the first World Mental Health Day, an event which continues today and plays an important part in raising the profile of mental health issues worldwide.

Professor Max Abbott

Professor Max Abbott is the recipient of the 2018 University Medal, awarded at the AUT Excellence Awards.

Professor Abbott joined AIT in 1991 and in the 27 years since, has made an immense contribution to the University. In recent years faculty research outputs, external research income and world subject rankings have increased significantly.  

He has been instrumental in opening up AUT to diverse health professions and developing the AUT Millennium sport science academy and AUT South Campus.

Described by former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley as being a “champion New Zealander”, he has played a lead role in reforming New Zealand’s mental health policies, law and services.

He has held leadership, governance and advisory roles in numerous other organisations, currently including Waitemata DHB, Brain Research New Zealand and the World Federation for Mental Health.

At the 2014 AUT Excellence Awards he received the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence in Research.

AUT Excellence Awards

Established in 2012, the annual AUT Excellence Awards celebrate the University’s outstanding teachers, researchers and professional staff.

Congratulations to all of our winners at the 2018 AUT Excellence Awards

2018 University Medal - Professor Max Abbott

Introduced in 2013, the University Medal is the pre-eminent academic award of AUT. It is presented to a member of the University community in recognition of sustained and outstanding contributions to AUT that reflect and enhance the academic development and reputation of the University.

Special Commendation for Excellence

For outstanding strategic contribution: Jenny Bygrave

Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Research Excellence

Research Team:

Centre for Person-Centred Research (led by Dr Nicola Kayes; David Anstiss, Dr Duncan Babbage, Dr Felicity Bright, Guy Collier, Christine Cummins, Dr Joanna Fadyl, Dr Suzie Mudge, Dr Deborah Payne, Sandy Rutherford, Kelly Scott, Ann Sezier, Professor Richard Siegert, Greta Smith, Gareth Terry, Bobbie-Jo Wilson, Dr Jill Wrapson)

Research Team – Highly Commended:

Te Ipukarea, the National Māori Language Institute (led by Dr Tania Ka'ai; Dr Rachael Ka’ai-Mahuta, Timoti Kāretu, Dr Dean Mahuta, Professor Wharehuia Milroy, Professor John Moorfield, Tania Smith)

Emerging Researcher:

Dr Nadia Charania, School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies.

Postgraduate Research Supervision:

Professor Chris Braddock, School of Art and Design.

Research Impact:

Associate Professor Sharyn Graham Davies, School of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

Individual Research Excellence:

  • Professor Andrea C. Alfaro, School of Science.
  • Professor Rhema Vaithianathan, School of Economics.

Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Teaching Excellence

Teaching Team:

  • Certificate in Science and Technology (led by Kerri Spooner; Dr Jordan Alexander, Dr Renu Choudhary, Jeff Nijsse, Heather Ricketts, Craig Sole, Dr Catherine Sweatman, Shaun Wason)
  • Co-operative Education Teaching Team (led by Jenni Boys; Kate Coleman, Helene Wilkinson

Teaching Innovation:

Nurs501 Project Team (led by Sally Britnell; Michael Neufeld, Paul Ripley)

Curriculum Development:

Sarah-Kate Millar, School of Sport and Recreation.

Individual Teaching Excellence:

Dr Anil Narayan, Business School

Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Professional Excellence

Professional Team:

  • Energy Conservation Team (led by Warren Smith; Avikash Chandra, Raymond Koole, Lindsey du Preez)
  • Māori Liaison Services Team (led by Hariata Mareroa; Trent Dallas, Kelly-Aroha Hatta, Margaret Mehana, Wiremu Tipuna)

Professional Innovation:

Internz Team (co-led by Ella Monahan and Anna Williams)

Professional Leadership:

Megan Skinner, Strategy and Planning.

Individual Professional Excellence:

Joyce D’Mello, School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.