Former Dean of the Faculty, Professor Abernethy was appointed Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her contributions to higher education and accounting research throughout her career and her commitment to student access and equity.
Professor Abernethy served as Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics for over eight years, during which she was instrumental in the implementation of the Melbourne Model, enhancing the extracurricular experience of students and spearheading the faculty’s investment in philanthropy.
She established the First in the Family Scholarships for Bachelor of Commerce students who are the first in their family to attend university and have experienced disadvantage.
“The ‘first in the family’ idea came from one of my team who identified this as a means to target students who might not have considered the University of Melbourne as a priority or even as a possibility. I have always been committed to ensuring that the very best students study with us regardless of their means. We wanted to ensure that we targeted students who had some disadvantage and were from under-represented schools,” Professor Abernethy said.
As Dean, Professor Abernathy was also committed to developing a world class doctoral program. With the support of the University, the faculty implemented a program that now includes two years of coursework and a three-year thesis component.
“When I finished as Dean I returned to the Department of Accounting and took on the role as Director of the PhD Program (Accounting) where I worked with others in developing the program in my own Department. I believe it has established us as having one of the best doctoral programs in Australia and the region,” she said.
A leading researcher in cost accounting, budgeting, performance management and corporate governance, Professor Abernethy currently holds the Sir Douglas Copland Chair of Commerce and is Director of the Melbourne Centre for Corporate Governance and Regulation (MCCGR) at the University of Melbourne.
In 2018 she also became the second woman to ever be inducted into the Australian Accounting Hall of Fame.
In addition to Professor Abernethy, University of Melbourne academics Professor Kevin Davis and Dr Deborah Towns were also awarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Professor Davis was named an AM for his significant service to higher education, particularly in financial systems. He has been a professor at the University of Melbourne since 1987, and his research has been in the areas of financial institutions and markets, financial engineering and corporate finance.
Dr Towns, who is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Workplace Leadership, was presented with the Medal of the Order (OAM) for her service to education, and to gender equity. A sociologist and historian, Dr Towns’s research has focused on the analysis of gender and leadership in workplaces and schooling.