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eConnect USA
Issue 2, July 2014

As a pre-clinical med student in Dunedin I was awarded a Summer Studentship in biochemistry. Instead, I had a girlfriend crisis, ended up washing dishes in Te Anau, and never showed up all summer.  Fortunately for me, Otago knew what a University is for – helping young people grow up, and giving its students the educational opportunity of a lifetime.  The University showed forbearance, I grew up, and earned the medical degree that has been the foundation of a rewarding career.  It took me until my 50s to realize the value of the gift I had received at Otago, and I’m determined to return the favour.  So I joined the board of the newly-formed Otago alumni association in the US, and donate to the AUOA fundraiser every year.

AUOA is mostly about connecting with US alumni.  What started as a national social event each November has expanded to three regional November events, planned this year in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, and there are new alumni circles in major cities in the US hosting local events through the year.  We also raise funds through our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.  The US is full of ambitious and successful Otago alumni who, like me, realize the debt they owe Otago and, when the time is right, want to give back.  We’ve raised nearly $1M in only a few years, from regular giving and significant bequests by alumni.  The funds are used to support Otago students visiting the US, help financially challenged students attend Otago, and fund valuable academic projects.

AUOA can use all the help we can get.  Read this issue of eConnect or visit the AUOA website Think about attending one of our US events - they’re fun and they’re free!  And don’t hesitate to contact me, our board members or regional associates if you think you could help our outreach or fundraising efforts.

Also, if you're in the Chicago area don't forget the All Blacks vs US Eagles event on November 1. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Harlene Hayne, is looking forward to seeing you there. Visit our LinkedIn page for more details!

Geoff Nichol
Alumni of the University of Otago in America, Inc
Feature 1.
Alumni at the Midwest Network event.
Regional Events: Midwest and Seattle

Our Midwest Network celebrated this year’s ANZAC Day in Chicago.

The Australian Consulate-General and The New Zealand Honorary Consulate hosted a ceremony to commemorate ANZAC Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and several Otago alumni were in attendance. The Seattle Network also hosted a casual get-together on 1 March.

Read more about these events here.

Feature 1.
Alumni at the Seattle Network get-together.
Philanthropy and Charitable Giving

New Zealand is a community-minded country where people help each other in all sorts of ways—pouring a new concrete driveway at the neighbors, carting hay for the farmer down the road, taking a fresh batch of scones to the lady next door who is ill. Kiwis are generous and caring and have a reputation around the world for taking anyone into their home and giving them a home-cooked meal or a bed for the night. Read more about charitable giving in the American way here.

Feature 1.
Sanne Boessenkool checking an adult penguin at a nest.
AUOA Funding: Yellow-eyed Penguin

The yellow-eyed penguin has long been a recognisable Otago bird, familiar to locals and tourists alike. These well-known penguins live only in southern New Zealand, and they are especially known as living on the Otago Peninsula. Numbers of these Otago birds have recently begun to drop, and funding from the AUOA is helping Professor Phil Seddon at the Department of Zoology to study what is happening. Read more about it here.

Feature 1.
Fungi samples from the collection at the Otago Herbarium.
AUOA Funding: The Otago Herbarium

Dr Janice Lord is one of the curators of the Otago Herbarium, housed in the Department of Botany. The herbarium, which is home to 70,000 plant specimens, was founded by Professor Geoff Baylis in the 1950s, and it is currently the largest University-based Herbarium in New Zealand. AUOA funding is helping the Department of Botany to bring the collection into the digital age, and you can read more about it here.

  Connect with the AUOA Online:

Visit our LinkedIn page and join us on the AUOA Group:

Or visit the AUOA website:

We look forward to connecting with you!


  Contact details of the members of the Executive of the AUOA Inc Board:

Dr Geoffrey Nichol, President

Professor Andrew King, Vice-President

Dr AnnMarie Oien, Secretary

Mr Neil Matheson, Treasurer


The Development & Alumni Relations Office,
PO Box 56,
New Zealand

Our email address is:

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