08 April 2016

Goodbye Martin!

On 7 April we bid bon voyage to Martin Sutherland as he departs Laidlaw College to take up the position of Dean/CEO for the Australian College of Theology, based in Sydney.

Martin came on to staff in 2008 at a time of significant change. In that year Bible College of New Zealand became Laidlaw College, and a new leadership structure was formed by Principal Mark Strom. Moving from Carey Baptist College to the new role of Vice-Principal Academic, Martin’s brief was to develop the research culture of the College and to revise academic processes and procedures. His teaching skills were also put to use, teaching Systematic Theology and Church History. Martin was already the Dean of the combined Laidlaw-Carey Graduate School on his arrival and he continued in that role for a further year. He has maintained a close connection with the Graduate School since, particularly in supervising post-graduate students. It has been a real highlight to see some of these students entering teaching roles and inspiring new avenues of research, both here and overseas.

Throughout his time at Laidlaw, Martin has been a member of Laidlaw’s senior leadership team, supporting first Mark Strom and then Rod Thompson in their roles. A restructure in 2014 saw Martin’s position change to Academic Dean. Martin has been involved in some significant achievements for the College. Success in the Tertiary Education Commission’s PBRF round in 2011 saw Laidlaw rated as the leading non-university institution in our research quality – a significant lift on our previous performance. Last year’s External Evaluation Review saw Laidlaw reach the highest standard NZQA is seeking. Behind these achievements lie a substantial amount of effort on the part of Martin and others.

The move across the ditch to Sydney is an opportunity to take on fresh challenges in a new environment. The Australian College of Theology manages a consortium of theological colleges in Australia with 17 members across the country and Laidlaw College as an affiliate. Those colleges range from very small certificate level providers through to quite large degree and post-graduate providers. The colleges deliver the programmes that ACT manages. ACT will be no stranger to many former BCNZ students. For almost 20 years students at BCNZ completed ACT degrees, starting in the early 1970s under David Stewart’s Principalship, before BCNZ was granted the right to offer its own degrees.

Martin will be guiding ACT through the next phases in the process of applying to become a specialised university in Australia. This would lift its potential access to funding and open new possibilities for wider partnerships within Australasia and internationally.

Martin will be missed by the Laidlaw community, not only for his wisdom, expertise and theological understanding but for his support of individual students and staff, and great sense of humour. He has on occasion been the lone staunch supporter of the Crusaders Rugby team – a position which is likely to remain unchanged once he and wife Yvonne move to Australia!

We wish Martin and Yvonne all the very best and look forward to a strengthened relationship between Laidlaw College and ACT!