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Over the last three years, the leadership team of the department has worked with tremendous dedication to continue the department's great trajectory, which was our legacy from Russell Smyth's time as Head. As my initial term as Head is concluding, it is a fitting time to express appreciation to all those in executive roles who have been working so hard.
Of course, some of the business is visible to all, but that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. A huge effort behind the scenes is required, and we owe a collective debt of gratitude to those making it happen, and especially so during a time of great challenge with the transformation in professional staff structure.
Gennadi Kazakevitch has steered our education portfolio as Education Director and Deputy Head for more than ten years now with an operating principle of common sense, though his has been notable for being uncommonly good.
Jeff LaFrance has served two terms of hard labour as HDR Director, and he has crushed enough tough rocks by now to lay a solid and lasting foundation for our PhD program.
Phil Grossman has managed the Research Directorship with efficiency, skill and diplomacy - attributes that will serve him well in his new role as Deputy Head.
Jakob Madsen has been a great role model as Caulfield campus director, and I wish him the very best for his transition next year to UWA.
Nick Feltovich is the once and future Clayton campus director, and suffice it to say that I feel very grateful that he has agreed to continue in that role.
Simon Angus has been in a new executive role for learning and teaching for only a few months, and already the value of adding him to the leadership team has been very high.
Niki Calastas departed nearly a year ago, but her many contributions and dedicated service are unforgettable. Niki provided the administrative foundation on which everything else rested, and she was a rock of sound advice, efficiency, and dedication. That's a tough act to follow, but Sue Ball has done it with aplomb for almost the past year, and to our great fortune.
Of course, these are just the formal leaders, and it is the efforts and dedication of everyone collectively that make this a great department. To each of you who has given it your best over the past few years, I thank you. And to the incoming leadership team, thank you in advance.
In the past three years as Head of Department, I have talked to well over 150 potential recruits. Each of those 150-plus times, I have talked about how the Monash economics department is one of the best places to work in the world, and I truly believe that. Beyond the world-class city, the ample resources, the vibrant intellectual atmosphere, the talented students, the low teaching loads, there are the wonderful colleagues and the spirit of collegiality.
The combination of all this is rare, and perhaps even unique. We have such privileged jobs in general as academics, and to have them here at Monash in such extraordinary conditions makes it a fantastic place to work.
This appeal is reflected in our recent recruitment success. New colleagues who have recently arrived include Wayne Geerling, Kris Ivanovski, Nathan Lane, and Gordon Leslie.
Philip Uschev and Carina Cavalcanti have recently commenced one-year research fellowships, with Carina also working for MonLEE part-time as previously.
Due to arrive over the next few months are Zac Gross, Weijia Li, and Xiaojian Zhao. Please extend a warm welcome to all, make time for that coffee or lunch with a new colleague, and build the collegiality that makes Monash economics the place people want to be.
Finally, congratulations to Matthew Leister and Chengsi Wang who have both been promoted to Senior Lecturer!
We have decided to relaunch the department newsletter EcoNews to help us stay better connected as a department.
We are a large department spread over several campuses and it is a good way for us all to keep in touch and be aware of what’s happening.
In the two and a half years I’ve been Head we’ve welcomed around twenty new staff and more are still to arrive this year. I believe it is important for us to communicate what we do to new staff to make them feel welcome and for us all to get to know them.
2018 has so far started in a very positive spirit. We’ve had a really exciting recruitment year. We look forward to welcoming Zac Gross from Oxford University, Gordon Leslie from Stanford University and Weijia Li from University of California, Berkeley, Xiaojian Zhao from Chinese university in Hong Kong before the end of the year.
From the number and quality of applicants to the department I believe our reputation is constantly improving.
Another very exciting development is the investment in teaching and learning. Superstar educator Wayne Geerling from the University of Arizona is joining us and we’re looking forward to his contributions within this field.
I am very pleased with the creation of the learning and teaching committee, of which Simon Angus is chair. The increased focus on pedagogy and innovation is very inspiring. Research has always been our priority but it is wonderful to see us making education more of an emphasis.
Lastly, the department is on a great research trajectory as you can see from the list of new publications. But there is always more to a department than doing well individually. We should be more than a sum of the parts. By mentoring, reading each other’s papers, being generous with help and advice we build a warm and welcoming community. It is in this spirit that we should move forward.