Portrait commission honours former Dean’s legacy
Professor Margaret Abernethy and artist Kristin Headlam with the Professor Abernethy's portrait.

Professor Margaret Abernethy and artist Kristin Headlam with Professor Abernethy’s portrait.

The outstanding contributions of Professor Margaret Abernethy, former Dean of the Business and Economics, to the University and community have been honoured with a portrait commission.

The portrait by renowned artist Kristin Headlam was unveiled at a recent ceremony held at The University of Melbourne. The current Dean of the Faculty, Professor Paul Kofman, opened proceedings and paid tribute to Professor Abernethy’s legacy, “It is wonderful to see so many faces to honour Maggie for her many contributions to the Faculty and University,” he said.

Professor Kofman went on to cite a long list of Professor Abernethy’s achievements. A Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and holder of both the Sir Douglas Copeland Chair of Commerce and the Chair of Managerial Accounting at the University of Melbourne, Professor Abernethy was Dean of the Faculty from 2004 to 2012. She is recognised as a leading researcher the fields of accounting and finance and her contributions to the understanding of performance management systems in the not-for-profit sector, government and the private sector have led to publication in leading top-tier journals. During her research career, she has also been awarded in excess of $1M in competitive research grants.

As Dean she was an integral part of the implementation of the Melbourne Model and the creation of the Faculty’s Graduate School. She also commissioned the five-star energy rated building at 198 Berkeley St, which is now home to the Faculty. In 2008 she was named the Telstra Business Woman of the Year (Community and Government), in recognition of her contribution to higher education.

Professor Kofman finished by acknowledging Professor Abernethy’s contribution to Faculty’s standing within the community saying, “Maggie’s impact has been profound and has enhanced the reputation of the Faculty in Melbourne, Australia and abroad.”

Professor Paul Kofman speaking at Professor Abernethy's portrait unveiling.

Professor Paul Kofman pays tribute to Professor Abernethy’s legacy at the unveiling of her portrait.

A speech by current Bachelor of Commerce student Simon Matthews highlighted another of Professor Abernethy’s lasting achievements. As the inaugural recipient of the Margaret Abernethy Scholarship for Leadership in Community Engagement, Mr Matthews outlined how the award had helped shape his university experience and the direction of his studies.

Professor Abernethy’s portrait adds to Kristin Headlam’s body of work that has been exhibited at commercial galleries and curated in institutional exhibitions in Australia and abroad. A University of Melbourne alumna she was awarded the Conrad Jupiters Acquisitive Art Prize by the Gold Coast City Art Gallery in 1991 and won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2001. Her work is represented in numerous institutional collections including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and our own Ian Potter Museum of Art.

Part of the University of Melbourne Ian Potter Museum of Art collection Professor Abernethy’s portrait will be on permanent display on Level 12 of The Spot.

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