Leoni Schmidt conferred Emeritus Professor

Professor Leoni Schmidt has been conferred the title of Emeritus Professor, in recognition of her contribution to scholarship and leadership within Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga and across the wider sector.

Leoni Schmidt 3 smaller for website

Prof Schmidt received the honour as part of our recent Graduation ceremonies.

“Leoni exemplifies all the criteria for an Emeritus Professor,” says Dr Megan Pōtiki, Executive Director, Otago Polytechnic.

“She has a national and international reputation as an academic leader, educator and researcher.

“Leoni’s commitment to her students is legendary; she was awarded an Ako Aotearoa National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award in 2011,” Dr Pōtiki says.

Jamie Smiler, Pounuku Rangahau | Director Rangahau and Research, Te Pūkenga: “It is fantastic to be able to acknowledge Leoni’s contribution to Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga.

“It is a well-deserved recognition of her contribution to scholarship and leadership within Otago Polytechnic and across the wider sector.”

Prof Schmidt joined Otago Polytechnic’s Dunedin School of Art (DSA) in 1996 as a Lecturer in Art History and Theory. She was appointed Head of School for the DSA in 2009.

Otago Polytechnic approved a Professorial Appointments policy for the first time in July 2005. Prof Schmidt was appointed the first full professor later in 2005 and, for the next six years, was the only full professor at Otago Polytechnic.

Prof Schmidt says receiving the title is a “great honour”.

“Otago Polytechnic is a wonderful institution: vibrant, challenging, collegial, and innovative.”

Leoni Schmidt

Emeritus Professor

“Our focus has always been the students and how we can extend and deepen the knowledge base we co-create with them.”

“Receiving Professor Emerita* status is a great honour, for which I thank the institution. I look forward to remaining connected to Otago Polytechnic, where I have worked for 26 happy years.” 

[‘Professor Emerita’ is the female version of the title, and how Prof Schmidt wishes to refer to herself. The more widely recognised ‘Emeritus’, although the male version, has been used in the original citation for Prof Schmidt and other materials; hence it is largely used in this article to maintain consistency.]

Prof Leoni Schmidt: background

As a researcher, Prof Schmidt’s work engages with the intersections between creative process and political agency and has been widely disseminated within New Zealand and abroad. She has presented at many universities, including the University of the Applied Arts in Vienna, University Ca’ Foscari in Venice, the American University in Rome, Paris and Beirut, and the University of Sydney.

Commitment to arts education:

Prof Schmidt was awarded an Ako Aotearoa National Tertiary Teaching Excellence award in 2011. The following excerpt, taken from her award commendations, summarises her achievements:

“As a former senior lecturer in South Africa, Leoni Schmidt faced new challenges in teaching on her arrival in New Zealand. The realisation that she needed to relearn people’s codes of living and expectations became part of what now exemplifies her as an excellent teacher. Like many teachers, her teaching life encompasses different age groups, abilities and ethnicities and encourages her to be flexible and adaptable in her teaching practices.”

Contribution to research leadership at Otago Polytechnic:

Prof Schmidt was also active in establishing a career path for research active staff to support and lead postgraduate education within Otago Polytechnic. As Otago Polytechnic’s Director of Research and Postgraduate Studies, she was responsible for the Research office, the Experiment, Production, Innovation Construction Centre (EPICentre) and the Research and Postgraduate Committee and its subcommittees. In 2019 she also added the role of Deputy Chief Executive Academic for the Auckland International Campus to her responsibilities.

A strong believer in the dissemination of research, Prof Schmidt was pivotal in the establishment of the Scope: Contemporary Research Topics family of academic journals. She also mentored staff towards the Performance Based Research Funding rounds in 2006, 2012 and 2018.

Contribution to postgraduate education:

Since 1998, Prof Schmidt led the Dunedin School of Art postgraduate programme and supervised a large number of dissertations and essays. She was recognised in her role as an excellent supervisor with the Otago Polytechnic Award for Research Supervision in 2008. She remains in demand as a supervisor and assessor for national and international institutions’ postgraduate programmes.

Contribution to research leadership across Te Pūkenga:

When the reform of vocational education was confirmed circa 2019, Prof Schmidt set about establishing a national network to ensure that academic scholarship and research were important factors for future planning.  She initiated and helped drive the Research Futures workstreams to increase collaboration across the sector. She was an active member of the Rangahau Research Forum of polytechnic research directors across the country.

Contribution to impact and arts in the community:

Prof Schmidt was a founding member of Transforming Dunedin, a group which aimed to enhance the arts life of the city. Later, she became a member (2015-2017) of Te Ara Toi Ōtepoti, the Dunedin Arts and Culture Group aiming to research and strategise about the arts future of the city. She also established the annual programme of Dunedin School of Art research seminars, creating an informal community of practice. This led to the establishment of the Dunedin School of Art Foundation in 2013.

Published on 19 Mar 2024