Celebrating 70 years of economic excellence

The University of Queensland’s internationally regarded School of Economics has celebrated 70 years of academic excellence.

From humble beginnings in 1947 when it was known as the Department of Economics and based at Government House in Brisbane, the School has flourished into a world-renowned nurturing ground for generations of hugely influential economists.

Boasting an honour role of alumni that reads like the who’s who of Australian business leaders and high-ranking public servants, the UQ School of Economics has also established itself as the destination of choice for large numbers of international students every year.

Emeritus Professor and former Head of School Ted Kolsen
Emeritus Professor and former Head of School Ted Kolsen 

Notable alumni include Chair of the Productivity Commission Peter Harris AO and his Deputy Chair Karen Chester, Reserve Bank of Australia Board Member Professor Ian Harper, former Department of Trade Secretary Dr Vince FitzGerald AO, Brisbane Airport Corporation Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Ms Julieanne Alroe and co-founder of Wotif.com Graeme Wood.

Current Head of School Professor Rodney Strachan acknowledged the level of alumni excellence and said the School was constantly striving to be the benchmark in economic education.

“The environment of academia has changed and become far more international, so the School in the last dozen years or so has responded to that by becoming more international,” Professor Strachan said.

Karen Chester, Deputy Chair of Productivity Commission and School of Economics alumna
Karen Chester, Deputy Chair of Productivity Commission and School of Economics alumnus

“We hire internationally. Our staff and students come from all over the world. If you’re looking for the best people, the bigger the pool, the better the people you can access.

“That has had a dramatic impact on the profile of the School and improving its research output in both the quality and the recognition that we achieve in that respect.

“A common refrain of many of our very successful alumni is they’ve been able to fall back on the skills, training and learning they acquired at UQ.

“This is the springboard we provided for their careers.”

During its 70-year history the School has had 8847 graduates and made many moves leading to its current location in the Colin Clark Building.

After starting life at Government House in George St, the School relocated to the St Lucia campus in 1949 where it occupied rooms in the Forgan Smith Building. A decade later, it moved to the Biological Sciences Building, in 1964 it was again relocated to newly-constructed Social Sciences Building and then in the early 1970s it was relocated to the J.D. Story Building.

A few years later it was shifted to the Hartley Teakle Building, then to the Commerce Building in 1975 where it stayed for two decades until the demand for more space again saw it shifted into the Colin Clark building in 1995.

Professor Strachan praised the School’s staff for their commitment to it and the thousands of students’ success.

Economic students

“Our staff work very hard to ensure that each year we improve in our profile, because we know that by getting good people in to teach and do research, it’ll improve the quality of teaching we provide,” he said.

“The fact that we’re celebrating the success and longevity of the School is important because schools are the engines of success of a university.”

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Last updated:
25 May 2017