Retired faculty officer heads back to class

Retiring after a 30-year association with the University of Wollongong, the last thing you might think Pat Macquarie would want was to head back to the classroom.

But that's exactly what happened, and after another five years toiling away at UOW, on Wednesday she was awarded a PhD in human geography.

"I received a literature and history degree from UOW in 1976, then began working as a faculty officer in the science department," Dr Macquarie said.

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"I started my PhD right after I retired."

Study consumed what was supposed to be the "golden years" and her relaxing retirement from university work.

Instead of going on tropical cruises or pottering around the garden, researching the interactions between people and their surrounding landscape - specifically, what role the escarpment plays in the Illawarra society - became a ritual for Dr Macquarie.

"It was my retirement strategy," she said.

"I became interested in how the principles of the humanities could be applied to the sciences. There's a lot of humanities in geography."

So, instead of leaving the campus behind, she returned to undertake one of the programs she had been overseeing.

"While I worked at the university, I watched the development of the environmental science degree, and thought it could be something interesting for me to do," Dr Macquarie said.

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