Position: former Associate Professor, University of Otago.
Dr Gordon Sanderson was Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Otago, Dunedin. Gordon enjoyed his job because it combined working with students, patients and doctors and is involved in research.
Gordon was born and bred in the United Kingdom and trained at Manchester University, where he initially studied physics. He enjoyed his studies, but before he graduated, he realised that it was going to be difficult to get a job in pure physics, so he enrolled in the recently started degree in ophthalmic optics.
Through a connection of his father, he got a job in a hospital as an ophthalmic optician. This hospital also trained nurses, and he was asked to assist with the teaching of the use of specialist equipment to examine patients’ eyes. It was then that he realised that he really enjoyed teaching.
At the age of 25, Gordon came to New Zealand as he had been appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Ophthalmology at Otago University. He was given the choice of flying or taking a 6-week passage by ship. He chose the sea voyage and stopped in Canada and America on the way to New Zealand. It was a great adventure, but Gordon had to work for 3 years or repay Otago for the cost of his passage. Gordon had planned to return to the UK at the end of the 3 years, but he enjoyed New Zealand so much he stayed on.
I like eyes and I like helping people.
Gordon loved his job, as he said: “I like eyes and I like helping people.” However, Gordon’s real passion was teaching. He was responsible for training students at the University of Otago who are interested in health sciences, training to be doctors and particularly those training to be eye doctor specialists or ophthalmologists.
In 2013 he won the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.
Sadly Gorden died unexpectedly in 2017.
This article is based on information current in 2012 and updated in 2018.