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Professor John (Old John) Shand
C.M.G., LL.D., M.A.
1834 - 1914

Later Life at the University

The graduation, or capping ceremony of 1887, was disrupted (again) by the students misbehaving. The Otago Witness of 26th August 1887 (page 20) says that the students chanted in chorus on Friday night the following ditty:


Johnny Shand’s subject is Electricity;
Professor Black and Willee are great in Chemistry;
In English Literature Professor Brown’s a regular whale;
At them Ancient Classics you can’t beat Sale.
      Glory, glory Hallelujah!

Professor D Gibbons slips o’er the Mathematics;
The Rev. Salmond teaches Ancient Ethics;
Parker on the common worm is devil-fishly hot;
To know about your body you have got to go to Scott.
      Glory, glory Hallelujah!


It may, or may not be significant that Professor Shand is referred to as Johnny Shand but that the other learned gentlemen are given their proper titles.

The Otago Daily Times of 23rd January 1890 (page 3) carried a summary of the latest University Council meeting. In it, it says that, Dr Shand wrote applying for a mechanical assistant. The Council, resolved to appoint a committee to consider the best machinery for assisting professors and keeping the University buildings and grounds in order without additional expense.

At a later meeting, reported in the Otago Daily Times of 13th March 1890 (page 4), John Shand submitted a letter stating, that the determination of the council to give him an assistant for the winter session would be almost worse than useless to him, as he would not be able to train such a man to be of any use to him. He continued, it would be better to devote the sum which the council was prepared to vote to paying a young man for the whole year, so that he would be able to learn all that was required of him, and be available year after year. The Council resolved that an assistant be engaged at a salary of £60 per annum.

The Otago University attained its 21st anniversary in 1893; John Shand gave an address on the growth of the University and the work done during the past 21 years which was reported in full in the Otago Daily Times of 10th April 1893 (page 2), giving a summary of the progress at Dunedin and a plea, as was ever the case, for more funds for the university.

Class numbers must have been rising; in the same year, a report of the workings of the University Council that appeared in the Otago Daily Times of 8th August (page 3) notes that:


Dr Shand wrote asking that, in consequence of the increased number of students in the junior physics class, the room formerly used as a ladies’ cloak room be added to the physics laboratory.


And again, in the same newspaper, on 3rd October (page 4) there is:


Professor Shand wrote stating that a deadlock very nearly occurred at the beginning of the session in the class of practical physics.

The number of students who had enrolled themselves was largely in excess of the accommodation afforded in the physical laboratory, both as regards space and instruments.

After the exercise of considerable pressure he was able to induce a portion of the class to come at an hour not set down in the time table, and quite half a dozen besides withdrew their names. The class was thus enabled to get work.

He was in hopes that by similar arrangements he should be able to carry on for some time to come without having to make any large demand on the resources of the council.

The small increase of room, however, and the few additional instruments which he had asked for were really very urgently required.


There seeming to be no further mention of the problem, John Shand probably got his extra space, and equipment.

It was not until 1894 that John Shand was appointed to serve on the Otago University Council; some sixteen years after he had been asked to sit on the senate of the New Zealand University. The Otago Daily Times of 19th 1894 (page 2) carried the story:


Under the terms of the act of Parliament passed a couple of years ago regulating the manner in which vacancies in the council of the University of Otago should be filled up, the election of a member in place of Mr R. L. Stanford, who recently resigned his seat on his acceptance of an appointment as a stipendiary magistrate in the North Island, devolved upon the Professorial Board, and that body met yesterday and resolved to appoint Dr Shand to the vacancy.


John Shand was still a member of the Council in 1909, when he attended a meeting in October that year.

An article in the Otago Daily Times of 6th June 1894 (page 4) probably gives away that John Shand’s salary at that time was in the region of £800 per annum when it talked about the main items of expenditure. Importantly, Professor Shand had a life engagement with the university and that his salary was paid by the church property trustees, and not by the university. At the same time, the article pointed out that John and his family had been provided with houses which were in no way part of the original agreement. A decision was made to charge £60 to each professor by way of house rent, and that sum should be deducted from the salaries paid.

1905 saw the publication of The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, which contained a brief biography of John Shand:


Professor John Shand, M.A., LL.D., who was appointed to the Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Otago in 1870, was born in the parish of Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland, in 1834, and was educated at the Elgin Academy and at the University of Aberdeen, Professor Shand graduated M.A. in 1854, and the honorary degree LL.D. was conferred upon him in 1889. For nine years he held the position of mathematical master at the Ayr Academy, and subsequently held a similar position for three years at the Edinburgh Academy.

He was appointed in Dunedin to the chair of mathematics and natural philosophy at the date first mentioned, and when these subjects were divided in 1886, he elected to retain the chair of natural philosophy.

Professor Shand is a member of the New Zealand Institute, and a member of the Australian Association for the advancement of science.

He served on the royal commission which was appointed in 1877 to inquire into the operations of the University of New Zealand and its relations to the secondary schools of the Colony, and which completed its report in 1879.

He has been connected with the education board of Otago, of which he was a member for ten years and three times elected chairman, and for the same period was one of the governors of the Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools of Otago.

Since 1877, Professor Shand has been a member of the senate of the New Zealand University, and was elected a member of the council of Otago University representing the professors in 1895.

Professor Shand came to New Zealand in 1871 by the ship Wild Deer, and landed at Port Chalmers. He is married and has two sons and seven daughters.



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