Significant campus building renamed in honour of first Vice-Chancellor

31 May 2022 | News

Lincoln University has renamed its former Commerce building in honour of Emeritus Professor Bruce Ross and Mrs Gill Ross at a naming ceremony held on campus on Friday 27 May.

Emeritus Professor Bruce Ross was the Principal of Lincoln College at the time of its elevation to independent university status in 1990, becoming the institution’s inaugural Vice-Chancellor and going on to serve as the University’s third longest serving leader in modern times.

In dedicating the Bruce and Gill Ross Building, the Lincoln University Council recognises the outstanding contributions of Bruce Ross, particularly in the areas of governance, management, academia and administration.

Equally, the renaming acknowledges the service of Gillian Ross in support of her husband, and in nurturing the unique sense of whānau, pastoral care and whanaukataka that distinguishes Lincoln University.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards said the renaming of the building was a fitting tribute to a husband and wife partnership that played a major role in Lincoln University’s history.

Bruce and Gill together played an exceptionally important role in shaping the status and reputation of the University, and it is an absolute honour and privilege to recognise their immense contributions to the Lincoln community in this very special way.

Responding to the naming of the building at the ceremony, Professor and Mrs Ross said it has added greatly to “our ongoing sense of connectedness with Lincoln”. They said that Lincoln has a bright future and they are delighted to remain associated with the University.

Bruce Ross’s association with Lincoln began in 1958 with his enrolment as a Bachelor of Agricultural Science student. He graduated BAgrSc in 1962 and Master of Agricultural Science with First Class Honours in Economic Theory in 1966.

His appointment to Professor of Agricultural Economics in 1970 followed a stint as Research Officer with the campus-based Agricultural and Economics Research Unit. Taking a leave of absence in 1982, he returned in 1985 to take up the role of Principal of Lincoln College.

In collaboration with College Council Chairman Sir Allan Wright, Professor Ross articulated the case for Lincoln to be granted independent university status, a goal which was achieved from 1990.

Professor Ross retired from the role of Vice-Chancellor in 1996, on appointment as Director-General of Agriculture, retiring from the later role in 2000.

The newly-renamed Bruce and Gill Ross Building was constructed from 1989-1990 and contains teaching spaces and administration offices for the Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce.


The Bruce and Gill Ross Building

Upon graduation, Bruce Ross worked as a Research Officer with the campus-based Agricultural and Economics Research Unit, assisting Professor Bryan Philpott with a pioneering input-output model of the New Zealand economy, presented at the National Development Conference of 1968, helping establish Lincoln’s national reputation in economics. In 1970 he succeeded Philpott as Professor of Agricultural Economics.

In 1982 Professor Ross took leave of absence to head the Trade Analysis Division of the OECD’s Agricultural Directorate in Paris. His work there contributed to the inclusion of Agriculture for the first time on the agenda of GATT, for the Uruguay Round of negotiations. This ultimately benefitted the New Zealand economy by more than a billion dollars.

Returning from Paris, Professor Ross took up the Principalship of Lincoln College in 1985.

As Principal, together with Sir Allan Wright as College Council Chairman, Professor Ross articulated the case for Lincoln to be granted autonomy from the University of Canterbury, of which it was then a ’constituent college’, and to be granted independent university status. This was achieved from 1990, and Professor Ross became Lincoln University’s first Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Ross retired as Vice-Chancellor in 1996, on appointment as Director-General of Agriculture. He retired from that role in 2000.

Awards held include the NZ Sesquicentennial Medal 1990; CNZM for services to agriculture 2002; Distinguished Fellowship of the NZ Association of Economists 2007; Lincoln University’s Bledisloe Medal, 2009.

Bruce Ross married Gill Wilkie, daughter of Lincoln alumnus D.R. Wilkie BAgrSc, a Senior Soil Conservator, in 1963. As Chair and Patron of the Lincoln Women’s Group, in addition to her role as Lincoln’s ‘First Lady’ during her husband’s leadership years, Gill nurtured and promoted Lincoln’s defining sense of family, pastoral care and whanaukataka.

The name of this building honours them both.

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