The day of the non-inaugural professorial lecture

Today was the first day of the lockdown in New Zealand. It has been a fairly traumatic few days for our family, as we watched our oldest son struggle with working at the front-line in a supermarket. Today has been so peaceful, the calm after the storm. But the stories from my son have sensitised me to seeing this time through the perspective of the many different people who queue up in a supermarket. There have been people trying to get themselves put into prison, who have been shoplifting without concern for consequences, who are spending more money than they have to hoard food and items. And of course, there are the people who have ‘seen’ the supermarket workers – and who have been grateful for the continued service.

The idea of doing my Inaugural professorial lecture at this time seems to be quite irrelevant. Yet, there has been a build up for me over several months and so I decided to go ahead and record myself. After all, this is how I have begun to inch my way into identifying with what it means to be a professor. There were a few people in the audience, who had not got news of the cancellation and they graciously stayed and nodded and smiled.

Afterwards, I took the opportunity to learn how to edit the talk on free software by Camtasia. I can vouch for the fact that it is possible to learn from scratch in a single evening – and it hasn’t crashed our limited rural broadband at this critical juncture. Last night the internet went down and my teenage son was seriously contemplating getting locked down somewhere more civilised. It’s hard to remember that that people have faced lockdowns in situations without our comforts. How about Shakleton’s crew who were left on Elephant island for three months (no internet there)!

Anyway, here is the results of my efforts. I’ve learned about using google slides and about editing videos along the way. And I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means to be a professor. However, it seems that all I’ve done here is tell a little story about my life and a bit of my research. There is much more to be done! It’s not easy to learn to tell a story – and I wish I could better communicate the ideas that buzz around constantly. Trying to communicate is such a humbling thing.

Here it is: the Non-inaugural Professorial Lecture of Dr Mary Butler, first professor of occupational therapy in Otago.

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