When the elephants came to town

February 17, 2006

Name: Chris Cowton

Age: Assuming I don't work until I drop, a little over halfway between starting my first post and retirement.

Job: Professor of accounting, Huddersfield University Business School. I also edit the refereed journal Business Ethics: A European Review.

Salary: Enough to ensure that my children won't get any financial aid when they go to university, but not enough to mean that I'll be able to help them out comfortably.

Background: Previous academic posts at Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Oxford universities. The move from Oxford to Huddersfield was described by one of my former tutors as swapping dreaming spires for sleeping chimneys, but Huddersfield is a fine town in its own way.

Students you teach: A mix that reflects the nature of the school - full-time MBA students, many from overseas; part-time MBA students working for companies and other organisations on either side of the Pennines; undergraduates from quite a few degree courses who are taking my option in business ethics; and several research students.

Biggest bugbear: Apart from academic authors who aren't able, or bothered, to follow a journal's style guide, people who comment, on learning of my interest in business ethics, "Isn't that an oxymoron?" Then, when I don't laugh, some labour the point by telling me that an oxymoron is a contradiction in terms like military intelligence.

Worst moment of university life: Being half an hour late for my lecturing debut to undergraduates at Oxford.

Best excuse for bad behaviour: My own (true) claim that my lateness (see above) was caused by elephants. They're not usually a hazard in Oxford, but the city centre became gridlocked when the circus chose to parade them up and down the high street.

What is your working space like? Organised. After accepting the job at Huddersfield I drew up a room plan, so I could fit in the necessary metres of shelving, filing cabinets and so on. It has worked, though after nearly ten years, and despite regular clearouts, the room's creaking at the seams.

If I want a feeling of space, though, I can look out of my window at the restored Huddersfield Canal that runs through the campus.

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? I'm on various university committees, including the research committee and senate.

Huddersfield is a friendly institution, so this isn't as dull as it sounds.

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