Why did you choose to pursue your Ph.D. at the Rawls College?
When I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in accounting, I really didn't understand what such a program would entail or what research truly looked like. I was unsure if I was going focus on archival or behavioral research as, until one is in a Ph.D. program and exposed to different types of research, it is hard to understand exactly how the two differ. While preparing to apply to Ph.D. programs, I researched over 70 accounting Ph.D. programs throughout the United States. Of all the accounting Ph.D. programs I considered, the program at the Rawls College had the most diverse faculty research interests with a great mix of behavioral and archival researchers. My particular subject matter focus of state and local government allows me to research audit, tax, managerial, or financial accounting and with the diverse faculty interests here at Rawls. Thus, I knew I would have the support and knowledge base needed to pursue any research subject I found interesting.
Additionally, I was fortunate to know a recent Rawls doctoral graduate who described the college atmosphere as warm and collaborative. When I attended my campus visit, I completely agreed with her assessment. The faculty was kind and eager to assist existing and new doctorate students in their research interests. The graduating doctoral students were equally as kind and driven to conduct meaningful research in their given fields. I really felt welcomed with open arms into this program; Rawls College felt like the right fit for me.
What do you like most about the Rawls College Ph.D. program?
The Accounting Ph.D. program here at the Rawls College is extremely collaborative. Although we are doctoral students, we are treated as peers by the faculty and encouraged to pursue our own research ideas from the start. We are asked to 'think big' in our research ideas and in what we can accomplish. Our ideas are respected and faculty work with us to refine those ideas to create high-quality research. In addition, the doctoral students are collaborative with each other which creates and atmosphere conducive to learning. I cherish being a part of this group of highly intelligent, driven people who encourage each other to move beyond what is comfortable and to push hard to succeed and achieve excellence.
What research projects have you worked on and why did you choose them?
I am currently working on my summer paper which examines the characteristics of local government finance directors and their association with local government financial stability. This research idea came from my background in governmental accounting as a former city finance director and is 'close to my heart' as people say. My goal while here at Rawls College is to address the under-served nature of governmental accounting and challenge the general perceptions of government service through innovation, education, and dedication. This is a multifaceted mission requiring research into the power and transparency of governmental financial reports and potential improvements, communication and education for existing finance officers, and development of the next generation of finance officers. The characteristics of local government finance directors and their association with local government financial stability is the first step in achieving my long-term goals.
How has the program been flexible when accommodating to your interests as a researcher?
The Rawls College has always been 100% supportive of my research interest even though there isn't currently a dedicated governmental and not-for-profit researcher on the faculty. However, my mentor, Dr. Heather Carrasco, understands governmental and not-for-profit accounting and has many connections to researchers in the area. She sees the intertwined connections between government and for profit accounting as I do, giving me valuable insight on my research.
The Rawls College faculty includes tax, audit, managerial, and financial accounting researchers, as well as corporate governance and corporate sustainability reporting researchers (among others). In essence, the faculty itself is flexible and I've found that faculty members are more than open to reviewing my work and providing suggestions, regardless of my governmental focus. Such assistance extends beyond the accounting program and I have found that there are faculty members in finance, information systems and quantitative sciences, management, and marketing that are also very willing to assist doctoral students.
Additionally, as my current research project requires significant survey and hand collected data, the Rawls College has given me the tools and financial support to collect my data effectively and efficiently.
Have you partnered with a Rawls College faculty member for a research project and if so, how has that experience been?
I am currently working on a research paper with three Rawls College faculty members. This research also relates back to my previous career as a finance director. When I worked for the City of Milwaukie, Oregon, I collaborated on the development and adoption of the city cannabis taxation code. When I arrived at the Rawls College, I was pleasantly surprised that some of the faculty were interested in pursuing accounting research related to this unique industry, and we have embarked on a qualitative study examining accounting's role in the cannabis industry.
I have been active in all facets of this research including identifying candidates for interviews, performance of remote and onsite interviews, background data collection, theory development, and manuscript drafting. The experience I gained by developing this research study has been incredible and has been an amazing learning opportunity. Furthermore, the opportunity to work on such a large research project as a first-year doctoral student was beyond my expectations and is a testament to the dedication of the faculty here at the Rawls College. I've also had an incredible time learning from my faculty coauthors who have been thoughtful, kind, and trusting in my capabilities.
How have your interactions been with your peers at the Rawls College and how have those interactions benefited you?
In addition to having faculty with diverse research interests, we also have doctoral students with diverse research interests. The diversity of doctoral student research interests gives much to draw from in terms of assisting each other. I have made lifelong friends and coauthors here at Rawls College. The cohort is constantly working together in one way or another including brainstorming on each other's research ideas, assisting in coursework, or with teaching. We are really a team in many regards and recognize that we make each other better.
I've been told that in some other colleges, students do not work together and actually act as competitors. That is simply not the case here and I'm thankful to be part of this team. Furthermore, the comradery goes beyond the accounting department and we are encouraged to work with doctoral students from other business areas including finance, management, information systems and quantitative sciences, and marketing.
How has the Rawls College supported you as a developing researcher and teacher?
I was granted the opportunity to teach managerial accounting during the summer term. I missed being able to teach this past year (I previously taught at Portland State University) and it was great to get back into the classroom. The faculty assisted me every step of the way in preparing for, and teaching my course. The technological resources at the Rawls College are state-of-the-art and afforded me the opportunity to incorporate interactive learning components to my classes.
As a developing researcher, Rawls College has not only allowed me to teach but has also given me the resources to be successful. I'm encouraged to go beyond what I though was possible and 'think big.' My ideas are respected and supported by the faculty while they assist me in thinking through my proposed research to ensure it is of high quality. The opportunity to work on a research project with faculty members as a first-year doctoral student has been an immense learning experience, and one that will propel me forward when I graduate.