Just how connected are our academics to the world around them?

03 December 2012
Senior lecturer Tom Agee

If you’re after an example of extracurricular community service within Business School academic circles, you can’t go past Tom Agee.

The affable senior marketing lecturer met his wife through volunteering for Lifeline 30 years ago, and has dedicated a lot of time to helping out his community since.

“I believe in giving something back to the community, but at the same time I get to meet and work with new like-minded people and new challenges,” Tom, who has taught in the Department of Marketing since 1993, explains.

“It broadens my view of the world outside the academic environment. I’ve become interested in the marketing challenges for not-for-profits from a teaching and research perspective and as a result have published several case studies in textbooks with more to come.”

Over the past ten years, Tom has served:

  • Nine years as a Consumers’ Institute director (now Consumer NZ), where he assisted a move to create Consumer Online to reach a new generation of Kiwis. He later did a full case study with video interviews for the Case Study Centre.
  • For the past five years as Auckland SPCA director, assisting in moving to a new business model, online presence and social media, and in October was awarded a commemorative medal for his contribution. “It’s a labour of love,” he says, “since two generations of our cats have come from the SPCA and Bob Kerridge’s contribution to the cause of animal welfare and the great work they do is exemplary.”
  • As a Parnell Community Trust director between 2005 and 2010, serving a neighbourhood he has lived in for more than two decades. The Trust operates pre-school and holiday programmes for kids, a Farmers Market, arts and craft classes, courses and venue hire.
  • The community of St Luke’s Presbyterian Church, serving on its marketing committee.
  • The New Zealand Marketing Association as chair of the not-for-profit committee for two years, a specialist group to help not-for-profits market themselves more effectively.

Tom, who has also been active in Rotary for 20 years, is an ideal example of the breadth of work academic staff members are involved in outside of the Business School’s four walls, Dean Professor Greg Whittred says.

“We are immensely proud of people like Tom who personify the spirit of this educational facility,” Greg says.

“Our aim is to partner closely with businesses and the community in order to do the best job we can in understanding the market and then producing graduates that make a difference. Having our staff involved intimately with outside entities can only strengthen that resolve.”

Next year’s issues of this publication will showcase each Business School department and the work our staff are doing in the community.