Merging law and ethics with the accounting profession

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Professor Emerita, Sally Gunz (MA, LLB Sydney, MBA Manchester), announced as an Honorary Member of the University

By Farah Mohd Fadzil, SAF Communications Co-op 
Photo of Sally Gunz

Recently the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) was pleased to be notified that one of its former faculty members, Sally Gunz (MA, LLB Sydney, MBA Manchester), Professor Emerita (1981-2019), was made an Honorary Member of the University. Now retired, we caught up with Gunz to talk about her career and the contributions she has made to SAF.

What initially began in 1981 as a short-term position in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Economics became a 38-year career with the School. Previously a lawyer at a firm formerly called Stephen Jaques & Stephen (currently King & Wood Mallesons) in Sydney, Australia, Gunz brought her legal expertise and started her career as a business law professor. She was one of the original members of the UW Accounting Group (before the School of Accounting and Finance, formerly the School of Accountancy, was formed in 1985), along with other economics and accounting professors.

Enhancing the quality of education for students

From the beginning of her career with SAF, Gunz was part of helping to revamp the undergraduate accounting programs for students. One aspect Gunz encouraged was the strengthening of ethics education, where she built on her own academic research in ethical decision making. These changes were designed to prepare students to make sound ethical decisions in their future careers.

Gunz became Director of the Centre for Accounting Ethics in 1998 and the Centre provided rich resources, both in terms of case studies and workshops, to accounting educators within SAF and across Canada. Gunz states, “I think now there is recognition that ethics education must be fully integrated within accounting and finance programs and not simply sub-contracted for others to teach. Ethics programming and research is now an intrinsic part of our School.”

In 2000, Gunz was part of the committee that was responsible for setting proposals, decisions, actions, and innovations of the School’s direction for the next decade. Being part of the decision-making processes in programming and curriculum, Gunz emphasized the need for more than just technical expertise.

With all the advancements and changes made to the School through many of her contributions, Gunz was announced as an Honorary Member of the University in 2021. Gunz is recognized for the tremendous amount of support and services that she provided to her colleagues and her students. This honour is a reflection of her service not only to SAF but to the university as a whole. During her career, Gunz sat on many of the policy setting and decision making bodies at the university including the Senate and Board of Governors. She was Chair of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee (AF&T) and ultimately served a term as President of FAUW, from 2015 to 2017.  Gunz also served her academic profession by being president of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business (ALSB), to date being the only non-American officer of this international academic body representing business law faculty. With others, including SAF’s Darren Charters, she helped create a Canadian regional affiliate of ALSB in 2014.

Reminiscing about her years at SAF

As she recalls her time at SAF, her family members were a significant part of her life, especially her husband, John McCutcheon, and her four children. “That’s just an important part of who I am.” Gunz recalls her children coming into the office with her and helping with small tasks -€“ whether it be sticking stamps on envelopes being used to mail out surveys or sorting exams in alphabetical order. “Now I am delighted to not only be a proud parent but to be a proud grandparent as well,” Gunz fondly talks about her family who is all over the world and hopes to reunite with them after the pandemic.

When asked about the one thing she has missed since retirement, Gunz immediately responded, “oh, the people! Absolutely!” Gunz loved being a part of a group that works well with each other, and she keeps the memories made close to her heart, “it’s the people aspect [and] the interactions with people that I go back [to and] working with people and helping them with their careers that I just am most satisfied by.”

At the end of 2019, Gunz has continued to make helping others a priority. She continues to be a member of the FAUW AF&T Committee. She is also currently heavily involved in leading the fundraising for a non-profit organization, Belwood Lodge and Camp, which provides summer camp experiences for people with intellectual disabilities. Coinciding with her retirement, Gunz and her team of fundraisers have a major capital project to embark on. As a short-term plan for her retirement, Gunz has enjoyed her time volunteering at the COVID-19 vaccine clinic, and is excited to see some of her SAF colleagues again when they go for their appointments.

Sally Gunz Interview