November 30, 2023

Ken Machande: Counting on Change

Ken Machande had a case of jitters heading into Monroe Hall more than two decades ago. He had the credentials, but he was “beyond nervous,” he said of his first day as an adjunct professor at Mary Washington.

College of Business Interim Dean Ken Machande

College of Business Interim Dean Ken Machande

“I remember walking out of every class knowing more about accounting than when I walked in,” he said. “I was hooked.”

Early worries long gone, Machande’s still commanding the classroom, teaching Principles of Accounting three mornings a week. As UMW’s business offerings have expanded through the years, so has his job. As current interim dean – a position he held also in 2018-19 – he’s poised to help move the College of Business (COB) forward.

But before Mary Washington, there was the military.

Machande was a young Marine stationed in Japan in the ’80s when he started studying business. A 21-year stint in the service brought a wealth of experience, a CPA and a 1994 bachelor of liberal studies degree from Mary Washington. Five years later, favorite former professor Leigh Frackleton, then-chair of the business department, offered him that formidable job in Monroe.

“I had extensive accounting experience, but I also had an extreme case of self-doubt. Somewhere in the second or third semester I calmed down and realized I could actually teach accounting,” said Machande, who was named COB’s associate dean in 2012.

Since then, the College has received AACSB accreditation, earning a spot among the world’s best. It’s added undergraduate majors in marketing, international business and Machande’s favorite, accounting. Faculty work with business majors who minor in subjects across disciplines, graduate students and those at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren.

The focus, Machande said, remains on teaching … “which is a lot of fun.”

Q: What do you love about teaching?
A: All our faculty members at UMW love to teach. I’m no different. Connecting with students early in their academic careers is important for many reasons – for the students and for me.

Q: What’s your take on being named interim dean, not once but twice?
A: Both appointments occurred under special circumstances. The first time, someone was needed immediately to serve, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic this second time, so there were no broad-based searches for candidates in either case. Many of my colleagues possess the skills and abilities to do the job, but I had the advantage of knowing what needs to be done because I’d been the associate dean for several years.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Our faculty members are collaborative and brilliant. Our staff members always take the extra step to help. Our administration is compassionate. Our students are curious. We all contribute in our own way to make UMW a special place where learning always happens. I’m reminded every day how lucky I am to work at UMW.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: Working through the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Spend time with my family (wife Samantha and two daughters) and play – or better said, try to play – guitar.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’m the best kickball player in the College of Business.