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Leader in teacher education recognised by UC

03 November 2023

An education leader and equity advocate has stepped down from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) after steering its School of Teacher Education through a decade of challenges and change.


Letitia Fickel has been appointed an Emeritus Professor following her retirement from the University of Canterbury.


Letitia Fickel, who retired from the University in December 2022 after serving 12 years as a UC professor, has been appointed the honorary title of Emeritus Professor, which is awarded by the University to long-serving, retiring professors in recognition of outstanding service.

Her achievements and advocacy will be recognised at UC’s Pō Whakamanawa | Celebrating Excellence event next week.

Emeritus Professor Fickel, who moved to New Zealand from Alaska, United States, made an outstanding contribution to the University of Canterbury after her appointment as the Head of the School of Māori, Social and Cultural Studies in 2010. She also led the establishment of the School of Teacher Education as its first Head of School, appointed in 2013.

As Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the College of Education, Health and Human Development she guided it through a series of significant events, including the move from UC’s Dovedale campus to a new home on the University’s Ilam campus, the launch of the Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership, and the development of Māori bilingual initial teacher education programmes. In 2022 she led the establishment of Te Kaupeka Ako | Faculty of Education, of which she became the founding Executive Dean.

Emeritus Professor Fickel is a highly respected academic who has evaluated initiatives and programmes in teacher education, undertaken commissioned reports, and served on numerous boards, including the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, Engagement Australia, and as Chair of the New Zealand Council of Deans of Education.

While holding senior leadership positions, she has also maintained an active research agenda, including two decades of work focused on developing culturally responsive and inclusive education practices, much of it supported with external funding.

Her collaborative work with communities and teachers has made a difference in how teachers engage with diversity within their classrooms and how universities partner with communities with the goal of improving teaching and learning.

According to her academic colleagues, the pursuit of equity and social justice within educational systems has always been at the heart of Emeritus Professor Fickel’s endeavours. Deeply respected by her peers, she provided a strong example of resilience in the face of adversity and was able to lead calmly and decisively.

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