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Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance

Chapter 7: “You Have to Change” … Pushing the Boundaries: 2009–2014

The appointment of Mark Gabbott as Executive Dean in 2008 was a distinct statement of purpose. … He would incentivise research performance and teaching quality, reform the workload model (counter to the Department's traditional teaching-centred values) in order to "provide relief for research active staff members". … An early start was made with the University Review of Structure in 2009, shrinking nine divisions down to four faculties. It also resulted in a telling reorientation of name. The old Faculty of Economic and Financial Studies (scholars language, that, informed by a 1960s priority towards theory) disappeared, to be replaced by the new Faculty of Business and Economics. The new "accountability" environment was also reflected, two years later, in a new name for the Department, "Accounting and Corporate Governance".

From a distance, Leung found Schwartz's innovations at Macquarie those of "an interesting character": she particularly liked his emphases on "people, planet, participation", which were embedded in the new (2009) University graduate attributes and curriculum, and encapsulated in each degree by a "capstone" unit that would "bring together all the related areas of learning that students have completed throughout their study to develop problem solving skills and prepare the student for life as a graduate". She was also aware, as many Australian academics were not, of how significant a reputation Macquarie had built up in Asia through the work of Peter Eddey. "If you go to China, for example, everybody knows about Accounting at Macquarie".

The final key success was in reversing the widening of the gap between the younger and older staff. When she took up the position as Department head, 40% of its workforce did not hold a terminal degree, 18% of them were Level A lecturers, and many had no experience in professional executive education. The more senior staff were concerned about the future of the Department, given the retirement wave in the mid-2000s … The younger staff were the future of the Department: they taught in new ways and understood the emerging needs and attitudes of the profession and the younger generation.

This broadening culture of innovation could be seen in the growing awareness of the issues of sustainability and water resources as problems endemic to Australia. Participation in a Water Accounting Development Committee (now the Water Accounting Standards Board) provided staff such as Lorne Cummings, James Hazelton and PhD students such as Edward Tello with a bridge to work with key government agencies, such as the Bureau of Meteorology, to apply accounting insights in new, publicly useful ways. Their work directly impacted on the major public debates over climate change and the major desalination projects being proposed for various parts of Australia.