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Autumn 2014 Issue
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Strong student focus in Business School transformation


Professor Lawrence Abeln

An 18-month restructuring of the University of Adelaide Business School is entering its next important phase.

Three world-class academics have been selected to continue the transformation and position the School at the forefront of international business education and research.

Professor Lawrence Abeln recently arrived from the US to take on the role of Dean with ultimate responsibility for driving the academic program and strengthening the School's brand and visibility.

He is well credentialed for the task after holding senior leadership positions at two of the world's leading universities - the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge - and founding three companies.

He sees the School's ongoing restructure as a perfect opportunity to increase the visibility, positioning and reputation of its academic programs, and to build on its research profile.

"At the end of the day, we need to provide a strong foundation for our students to lead and to manage the challenges of business, government and society in the future," he says.

"And in terms of research, we need to contribute new ideas and knowledge with applications to improve the performance of both private and public sector organisations.

"Our mission is to not only produce leaders who have an economic impact but those who can change society."

The Business School currently has 75 staff members and about 5500 undergraduate and postgraduate students representing one-fifth of the University's total enrolments.

But Professor Lawrence says given the stiff competition in business education - there are 55 schools in Australia and 15,000 worldwide - a clear strategy and vision are essential to reinforce the University's strengths.

His intention is to work closely with the business community to ensure the School's programs and research focus are closely aligned with market needs.

And, with the School's reputation directly impacted by the success of its graduates, Professor Lawrence intends refreshing many of its degree programs and creating experiences to support professional development.

"There are 5000 undergraduates in the Business School at Adelaide, and we need to provide a strong academic foundation, an interdisciplinary experience that supports the professional development of our Bachelor of Commerce students," he says. "We will work on providing a pathway for those interested in further study to pursue one of our postgraduate specialised degrees."

Other changes are likely to include new expanded formats and opportunities for postgraduate study for students across the University. Also on the agenda are new short courses for the community as well as bespoke offerings for organisations.

"In terms of our PhD students, I would like to work with them to increase our placements and find ways we can greater collaborate in research with international institutions," he says.

"It's important that we support engagement in leading research and establish metrics around publications, citations and research output. The University is measured in rankings by research and it is an important component of our reaccreditation process with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International."

Professor Lawrence also wants to encourage interdisciplinary research between the Business School and other schools in areas such as economics, law, architecture, education, sciences and engineering.

"There are research opportunities in many areas such as smart data, entrepreneurship, system thinking, and we want to create a supportive environment for our faculty and PhDs to engage in research which is relevant and which adds to our overall reputation."

New Leadership
As part of its restructure the Business School has made three new senior appointments:

> Professor Lawrence Abeln, Dean - more than 20 years of academic leadership. Previously Director of the MBA Program at MIT Sloan School of Management and the Deputy Dean of the University of Cambridge Business School.

> Professor Manuel Becerra, Head of Marketing and Management - extensive leadership experience in major universities overseas, most recently at the highly ranked IE Business School in Madrid.

> Associate Professor Paul Coram, Head of School of Accounting and Finance - former Deputy Head of the Department of Accounting at the University of Melbourne with a strong research focus and links with the accounting profession.

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