Husband and wife team both garner a gong

Professors Rosalind and John Croucher of Woodford, both appointed Members of the Order of Australia (AM) on Australia Day.
Professors Rosalind and John Croucher of Woodford, both appointed Members of the Order of Australia (AM) on Australia Day.

It definitely qualified as an "OMG" moment when husband and wife, Professors John and Rosalind Croucher from Woodford, found out they had both been appointed Members of the Order of Australia (AM) on Australia Day.

"We got our notification letters in the mail on different days - I got mine first which was pretty exciting and the next day John got his - it was just amazing," Rosalind said.

"It was a blessed situation and we just went 'oh my God', but of course we couldn't tell anyone about it until Australia Day - we had to keep it to ourselves for two months. It's a great honour."

John described that moment as "a wonderful surprise".

"We had no idea either of us had even been nominated," he said.

"We've since found out it was by two different people, who didn't know each other."

He later quipped the mathematical chances of that happening "were extremely low".

John's AM is in recognition of his service to mathematical science in the field of statistics and for his work as an academic, author and mentor.

The current professor of management at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management has served as chairman of the university's statistics department, has completed four PhDs, written 27 books and was a visiting professor at three overseas universities including the Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea.

"In PNG I was called to set up a quality MBA course, so I developed a program and did several teaching stints there on a pro-bono basis and the first set of students graduated in 2011," John said.

"While PNG has its challenges, I found the people there are lovely and they really want their country to be better than it is."

John became a member of Macquarie University's Academic Senate in 2011, received the Prime Minister's award for university teacher of the year in 2013-14 and is benefactor of Parramatta High School's annual prize for excellence in mathematics.

He even had a stint as a rugby league television presenter as "the statistics guy" on Channel 10 between 1984 and 1991 and wrote a mathematics-inspired column in the Good Weekend magazine.

"As a teacher, you try to be interesting and challenge and motivate your students, as you don't want them to go home thinking 'that was a waste of time'. They want to learn something they can use back in the office, something that's relevant to their jobs."

John's latest book, The Kid from Norfolk Island, tells the remarkable life story of Alf Pollard, who despite doing poorly at school and flunking maths, went on to become a professor and one of Australia's most outstanding mathematicians and actuaries.

Rosalind's Australia Day honour or her significant service to the law as an academic, to legal reform and education, to professional development and to the arts.

Last year she was named Australian women's lawyer of the year and she made The Financial Review and Westpac's 100 women of influence list in the area of public policy.

Rosalind did a history and law degree after finishing school, but said it was the philosophy of law that really sparked her interest.

She became acting dean at the University of Sydney's faculty of law in 1997 and then spent eight years as dean of law at Macquarie University, "loving the teaching and academic rigour of both those roles".

"Since 2007 I've been working at the Australian Law Reform Commission, was appointed president in 2009 and have led inquiries looking into issues from disability and aged care to privacy and legal privilege.

"Law reform takes the academic into real life and the most interesting aspect for me in the role is the interaction with government and parliament and making a difference.

"The Commission's reports look to the longer term and although implementation of recommendations is out of our hands, our work can create a lot of leverage."

Outside of her working life, Rosalind has played the oboe with the Sydney Philharmonia Choir, performed with the Renaissance Players and still sings in the Bar Choir.


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