We all lived through another year of uncertainty, with the latter part of the year largely consumed by the unprecedented challenges of navigating an extended lockdown. Yet again, our College community stepped up to manage the challenges of an ever changing global pandemic landscape. I’m proud of the way the College and our people delivered on a number of key priorities. Of particular note:

Student efforts

I was in awe of the resilience and adaptability of our students through our extended lockdown. I spent 13 years as a tertiary student (some suggest I’m a slow learner), and through that time, one of the most important things to me was being able to confidently plot my pathway forward with as few surprises along the way as possible. Students inherently want stability and certainty when completing an academic programme. This year we were unable to offer that. We were reacting to lockdowns and constantly changing government restrictions that meant we were often working on 4 different teaching plans at the same time. Our key goal through the lockdown was to do whatever we could to get our students through the academic year so they could either graduate as a chiropractor, or complete their academic courses and enjoy a well-earnt break over summer. I’m proud and somewhat relieved to say we made it through. To achieve this goal our students had to show incredible levels of resilience, adaptability and tolerance for the ever-changing landscape. So, to our students, congratulations on making it through the year, you stepped up, faced the challenges head on, and overcame the obstacles that were in your way.

New graduates

I want to give a special mention to our graduating class. This cohort of students faced lengthy lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. They missed out on some of the biggest highlights of our programme, like the Rarotonga trip. Just a couple of months ago it was unclear when they would be able to graduate, and now that they have completed their studies with us, they haven’t yet been able to celebrate their graduation together. Through all of these challenges and uncertainty they stuck together as a group and pledged to help get each other through, which they did. Their attitude epitomises the vitalistic spirit of the College and is testament to their resilience and drive to become one of the world’s best chiropractors.

Staff and faculty

We couldn’t have successfully completed this semester if our staff and faculty hadn’t gone above and beyond to make it happen. Just as our students had to be flexible and adaptable, so too did our staff and faculty. They worked nights and weekends to make sure we could get our students through. Their passion and commitment is second to none and they all deserve a very well earnt break over Christmas.

While we’ve been navigating the challenges we’ve faced to get through this semester, we’ve also been planning for the future and have made some significant changes to the roles and responsibilities of some of our key people. These include:

Marina Fox

Marina has been appointed Vice President Academics. Over recent months, Marina has been working 7 days a week, getting up at 4-5am so she can work on our curriculum review and reaccreditation early in the morning and then still have time to manage our academic programme and Covid response through lockdowns, while supporting our faculty and students. Marina’s new role will allow her to provide academic leadership at the College while focusing on a number of high-level initiatives that we believe will strengthen our programme. To make this possible, we are providing Marina with more support to help her co-ordinate the day-to-day teaching and learning of our programme.

Matt Sherson

Part of this extra support for Marina involved appointing Matt Sherson as the Associate Dean of Chiropractic. Matt has been a vital member of the College community for many years and is now stepping into this new role that will focus on the integration of the College’s principles and values across the programme. Matt will be working closely with Kirk Stevens, our new Head of Department – Chiropractic Centre, to ensure that the Chiropractic Centre experience is congruent with the philosophy and principles that underpin our programme.

Kirk Stevens

As I mentioned, Kirk Stevens is our new Head of Department – Chiropractic Centre. I’ve personally known Kirk since 1994, when we both started at the College in the inaugural class. Over the last 27 years I’ve seen first-hand as Kirk has developed into a successful, skilled chiropractor. During the interview process for Kirk’s new role, he gave an inspiring presentation of his vision for the Chiropractic Centre. It centred on the 3 pillars of care, culture and consistency. I had goosebumps as I listened to Kirk talking about his plans for enhancing the student experience in the Chiropractic Centre from their very first days at the College to the day they leave. He talked about leading by example, supporting and developing the incredible Chiropractic Centre team, and building on the great foundation we already have to best deliver an exceptional learning experience for out interns. I’m excited about the new developments Kirk is planning to unroll in the Chiropractic Centre and the positive impact they will have for our whole College community.

Heidi Haavik

I’ve worked closely with Heidi for the past 15 years and continue to be inspired by her vision and dedication to our College and our profession. When I was appointed president, we had to work out how to restructure the College’s research programme so it could continue to successfully operate with less of my direct input on a day-to-day basis. This restructure involved Heidi being appointed the Vice President Research and also taking over many of my former Dean of Research responsibilities. In Heidi’s new role, she will be responsible for providing inspirational research leadership at the College, to direct and manage the ambitious research strategy, and develop new research funding opportunities. She will also work closely with Marina and the academic team to provide research leadership for faculty and for the College curriculum.

Imran Khan Niazi

Closely supporting Heidi in her new role is Imran Khan Niazi. Imran has now been appointed as the Director of the Centre for Chiropractic Research as well as the Dean of Innovation and Technology. Imran has been an integral part of our College research team since 2013 and he is a truly remarkable scientist. I feel grateful every day that we have Imran on our team. He brings with him a unique skill set that is providing us with opportunities that are unheard of in the history of chiropractic. Imran is a world expert in artificial intelligence and he has developed a network of collaborators around the world that are enabling us to make big strides forward in how we teach and practice chiropractic. As the Dean of Innovation and Technology, Imran will be responsible for leading the College in the use of innovative solutions and digital technologies to support student and staff learning, as well as supporting entrepreneurship and innovative commercial activities. In his role as the Director of the Centre for Chiropractic Research, Imran will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Centre and our dedicated research team. Imran will be kept very busy with these roles!

These significant appointments have been made to prepare us for the years ahead at the College. In 2022 we will be rolling out the most significant curriculum advancements that we’ve made in over a decade. We have been working hard, in amongst lockdowns and navigating Covid, to renovate our curriculum to ensure we’re meeting the learning needs of our next generation of learners and chiropractors. One of the most significant changes is that we’re moving from our current 16-week semesters to 12-week academic semesters. This will make a huge difference to the wellbeing of our students, staff and faculty. We’ve been able to make this change by reviewing the curriculum and ensuring that we don’t have unnecessary repetition and that everything we teach really does contribute to our students graduating as one of the worlds best chiropractors. One of the key focuses for our new curriculum is to teach our course content in an integrated case-based format wherever possible. We’re confident that the changes we’ve made are going to serve our goal of continually improving the way we teach our programme so we can best achieve the mission and vision that drives all that we do at the College.

One of the key challenges we’ve faced through Covid is that we have been unable to bring our international students into the country. We really value the diversity and enthusiasm that our international students bring to the College, so we are looking forward to 2023 when we will be able to welcome another cohort of international students. In the meantime, our recruitment and admissions team have been working exceptionally hard locally, so I’m pleased to announce that we still had competitive entry amongst our domestic students for next year, which means we will be welcoming a full cohort of great people to start in year 1 at the College in 2022.

As I reflect on 2021, its clear that what we accomplished was because of hard work and dedication from the collective College community. I would like to sincerely thank all of you. The Board of Trustees, our team, faculty, staff, mentors and students for making this possible. Also, to our donors, our alumni and friends of the College, thank you for your continued support through these challenging times.

You have helped us achieve more than we thought possible. You have helped us continue to focus our efforts, where it matters most, ‘educating great people to become the world’s best chiropractors’

I look forward to a more stable and stronger 2022.

In the meantime, I wish you all a safe and restful holiday season and a healthy, happy New Year.