New head of Psychology appointed at University of Auckland

01 February 2018
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Professor Suzanne Purdy

A pioneering speech communication researcher has been appointed to lead the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland.

Professor Suzanne Purdy has been a leading researcher in communication disorders for more than 20 years and helped found the Speech Science programmes at the University which sit within the School of Psychology.

She is a passionate believer in the critical importance of communication as a key life skill.

“Being able to communicate our thoughts and feelings is something we tend to take for granted so it’s really not widely appreciated how significant it is for people when their ability to communicate is impaired,” she says.

“Speech, language and hearing problems can have significant effects on wellbeing and relationships and often lead to more generalised social withdrawal. These difficulties have a real impact on quality of life and mental health.”

Professor Purdy spent her early years in Northland before moving to Auckland and is of Te Rarawa and Ngai Takoto descent. She completed her early studies in Psychology at the University of Auckland before being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship which allowed her to complete a PhD at the University of Iowa.

For the past 14 years she had headed Speech Science and says a key strength of the School of Psychology, which is ranked at 33 in the QS World University Rankings, is the diversity of its research and teaching.

“The school is pretty exceptional in terms of the quality of the staff and the diversity of its research and programmes and I am very excited about this new role and the contribution I can make, particularly in supporting Māori and Pacific students to achieve their full potential.”

She also welcomed the review of mental health services announced recently by the Government.

“Arguing for more resources is often seen as simply self-serving but I do strongly believe we need more clinical positions in the community – currently people’s needs are not being fully met.”

Professor Purdy’s appointment will be celebrated at a powhiri at Waipapa Marae, University of Auckland city campus at 10.30 am today.


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