by Joe King
Pam Smith’s willingness to live on the edge – or at least teach there – has helped the NIU professor earn the distinction of being named the Illinois CPA Society’s 2008 Educator of the Year.
Smith, who teaches in NIU’s Department of Accountancy, regularly takes on the task of training professionals at leading accounting firms across the country in the latest rules and techniques of the field. Constantly tackling new material in front of seasoned professionals can be a bit unnerving, she admits, but it pays dividends – both for her and for her NIU students.
“Training working professionals takes me way out of my comfort zone. It stretches me as a teacher, which ultimately improves my teaching in the classroom,” Smith says. “It keeps me on the edge, technically speaking.”
That edge has made Smith one of the most highly rated teachers in her department for years and helped her stand out from a field of candidates for the award, which included nominees from community colleges, colleges and universities across the state. The award recognizes teachers who have demonstrated leadership and who have made continuous and outstanding contributions to accounting education in Illinois.
“The Illinois CPA Society’s selection of Pam Smith as the 2008 ‘Educator of the Year’ is a testament to her talents, abilities and track record as a teacher and mentor,” says Denise Schoenbachler, dean of the NIU College of Business. “Pam not only plays a big role in the success of the accountancy program – her contributions reflect the larger commitment of the college to support the profession and help bridge accounting education and practice.”
The award is the latest in a long line of teaching awards that Smith has earned since she arrived at NIU in 1994.
In 2007, she received the NIU Executive MBA’s Golden Apple Award, and in 2006, she received their Teaching Excellence Award. For four consecutive years (1999-2002), Smith was selected to receive the NIU Accountancy Department’s Outstanding Educator of the Year Award and was the NIU College of Business nominee for the university’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
“I have been honored to receive several teaching awards over the years, and every one of them is a tremendous honor,” Smith says. “Teaching is what I love to do, so it is great to be recognized for that,” she said, adding that she was humbled to have been selected from a pool of great accounting professors statewide.
Smith, who is the KPMG Professor of Accountancy at NIU, also has made many contributions outside of the classroom, most notably as the catalyst behind the creation of an honor pledge and code of conduct for accountancy majors, both of which were developed and written by NIU students with guidance from Smith. She is also one of three authors of the NIU College of Business Building Ethical Leaders Handbook and one of the developers of the college’s BELIEF initiative (Building Ethical Leaders using an Integrated Ethics Framework).
Smith is the latest in a long line of NIU College of Business educators to receive the Illinois CPA Society Educator of the Year award. Previous recipients include NIU accountancy members Don Kieso (1988), Pat Delaney (1991), Richard Baker (1993) and Debra Hopkins (1997).
NIU’s accountancy program, widely known for its long-standing and active involvement in the profession, has a strong reputation of excellence in both the accounting and finance fields as well as in academic circles. The NIU College of Business undergraduate accountancy program ranked in the top 20 nationally for each of the last 19 years by Public Accounting Report, a major trade publication for the accounting industry
The Illinois CPA Society represents 23,000 accounting, finance and business professionals throughout Illinois and worldwide.