NZ Law: ‘Scarfie’ Law School Dean Steps Down

Professor Mark Henaghan

NZ Law: 'Scarfie' Law School Dean Steps DownPerhaps New Zealand’s best known law school Dean, Professor Mark Henaghan, has stepped down from his long-held role.

The head of the University of Otago’s faculty of law is stepping down as dean in the wake of an outcry over second-year law camps.

A much-loved and colourful character, the Dean’s administration was recently also tainted by complaints regarding the Otago Law School’s law camps, although he has not indicated that the controvery was an influence upon his decision to step down and later to move to Auckland, where he has taken a position with the Auckland law school. He will continue to lecture and handle research work until the end of the year.

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He would be replaced by the law faculty’s deputy dean, Professor Jessica Palmer.

Prof Henaghan, in his statement to media today Professor Henaghan said he now felt it was “appropriate to allow a fair and decent amount of time for my successor Professor Jessica Palmer to learn the ropes in this very demanding role and to enable her to lead the strategic planning for next year and into the future”.

“I am very confident Professor Palmer will do a brilliant job as Dean of the wonderful Otago Law Faculty. She has all the necessary qualities to lead the Faculty into a very bright future. I wish her all the best in this new role.

The issue with the annual camps related to some student who talked of the drinking, stripping displays and jelly wrestling, issues that arose following the Russell McVeagh sexual harassment scandal broke. The issue at Otago saw the students association (SOULS) cancel the camp after the university said it was not prepared to support it and following complaints to pro-vice chancellor Tony Ballantyne.

Professor Henaghan has long held the position as one of New Zealand’s leading researchers and commentators on family law issues and has encouraged an enthusiastic following from many current students and alumni. An active sportsman he has appeared in student productions and also played himself in the movie “Scarfies”, set in Dunedin.

He was quoted in a LawTalk article about the movie, saying of the movie:

“There’s a funny story with that… I was at Heathrow airport a few years ago with a couple of other Kiwis and we were watching Scarfies, along with an American guy in a wee baseball cap…

“It was Dustin Hoffman and I was chatting away to him… He was flying Air New Zealand and none of his movies were showing on board but Scarfies was… This was my finest moment…”

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