Professor James McWha, AO, Vice-Chancellor, Lincoln University
Professor James McWha has an esteemed career in
the tertiary education sector. For over 30 years,
Professor McWha has held numerous leadership
roles, devoting his time to teaching, research and
educational administration in New Zealand, Northern
Ireland and Australia.
Professor McWha began his university journey
studying botany at Queen’s University Belfast in the
early 1970s. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science
and Bachelor of Agriculture (with honours in
Agricultural Botany) before going on to receive his
PhD from Glasgow University.
His first foray into teaching was as a lecturer in the
Department of Botany at Canterbury University,
followed by a term as Head of the Department of
Plant and Microbial Sciences.
In 1985, Professor McWha returned to Northern
Ireland to take up a joint appointment as Professor and Head of Agricultural Botany at Queen’s University
Belfast, and Deputy Chief Scientific Officer in the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture.
New Zealand soon came calling again and in 1989 he returned, this time to Wellington, to take up the role
as Director of DSIR Fruit and Trees in the Department of Science and Industrial Research. In 1992 he
became the foundation Chief Executive of HortResearch, the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of
Education however was never far from Professor McWha’s radar and in 1996 he was appointed Vice‐
Chancellor and President of Massey University, a position he held until 2002 when he moved to the same
role at the University of Adelaide.
After 17 years leading established universities, in 2013 Professor McWha took up the challenge of
founding the University of Rwanda. He held the role of Vice‐Chancellor of until his retirement in 2015.
Professor McWha was Secretary General of the International Association of University Presidents from
2002 to 2005 and also the honorary treasurer and executive committee member of the Association of
Commonwealth Universities from 2007 to 2017.
Professor McWha’s contribution to the tertiary education sector has been widely recognised. In 2003 he
received the Australian Centenary Medal for services to education and in 2011 he was made an honorary
officer of the Order for Australia. Massey University has also acknowledged his outstanding contribution to
their institution and advocacy for the New Zealand education system, awarding him with a Doctor of
Science in 2004.
Professor McWha joined the Lincoln University Council in 2017 and has been appointed Vice‐
Chancellor of Lincoln University through until December 2018. He has been tasked with spearheading
a cultural revolution which will ignite the University’s future direction.
Time: 12:30 pm, Monday 25th June 2018.
Keynote Topic: The Business of Lincoln University’s Transformation