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The Honor of an Endowed Professorship

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October 26, 2021

Kara Obermire, an assistant professor of accounting and holder of the Shirley E. Droschkey Professorship in Accounting, writes about what faculty support means to her.

I am Kara Obermire, an assistant professor in accounting in the College of Business and the holder of the Shirley E. Droschkey Professorship in Accounting.

I joined the OSU College of Business in 2016, and in 2018 I was honored and truly humbled to be awarded this endowed professorship. It demonstrated to me that my commitment and passion for teaching and research are valued by the college and the university.

Receiving these honors is important in our professional fields. It also motivates me to continue to strive for excellence in the classroom and in my research.

It is especially exciting to receive these honors at a Carnegie R1 research university like Oregon State University.

I have been supported by donors throughout all of my academic endeavors – as an undergraduate and master’s student at the University of Montana, as a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and now as a faculty member at OSU.

I would not be where I am today without this support. This support is what motivates me to be the best professor I can be.

I toured OSU long before I joined the faculty in 2016. OSU was one of my final two choices for college. I loved Corvallis as a college town and the university.

However, due to scholarship support, I chose instead to attend the University of Montana. But I always wondered what it would be like to be a Beaver.

I had a wonderful experience at the University of Montana for both my undergraduate and Master’s degrees in accounting.

Upon graduation, I completed the CPA exam and started in the audit practice of Deloitte in Seattle. A few years in, my husband’s graduate school work took us back to Missoula, Montana, and then to Columbus, Ohio. While in Montana and Ohio I had the opportunity to teach as an instructor at the University of Montana and at The Ohio State University.

Accounting is a difficult subject for many students, and I truly enjoyed coaching and mentoring students through new and challenging concepts. These teaching experiences are what motivated me to consider an academic career.

During this time, there was also a projected shortage of accounting faculty. Accounting firms across the country came together to financially support more than 100 individuals with recent professional experience to go back to school and pursue an accounting Ph.D. This, along with conversations with accounting faculty, convinced me to pursue an accounting Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Admittedly, when I entered the program I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Ph.D. programs are focused on research, and I knew little about accounting research and its value.

But during my five years in the program, I learned how actively researching supports me to be even better in the classroom. 

Broadly speaking, my research looks at the monitoring of financial reporting – specifically the roles of auditing and corporate governance, which we know is critical to high functioning capital markets.

I talk to accounting professionals and regulators from across the country to do this work, and I take what I hear in my research and bring it into my courses.

For example, I look at what impacts the quality of an audit. This includes researching how working on geographically distributed audit teams can influence the quality of an audit.

I have been able to take what I learned from that research and talk to my students in my Advanced Auditing course. We have talked about the advantages and challenges of working remotely, how this can impact communication and accountability, and how it will impact specific audit tasks that these students will complete when they start their careers. 

Recently, I have also looked at how having experience as an auditor influences individuals in future roles. I look into how having this experience influences a CFO’s financial reporting choices, or how it influences how an audit committee member serves on a board of directors. 

I am also looking at board members’ experience serving on multiple public company boards at this same time and how this affects their role in corporate governance.

These are just a few examples of studies I have been working on. Each of them helps to keep me up to date and current with the profession. I then leverage this in every single course that I teach.

I really enjoy my time in the classroom, and while it has been different this past year, I have been able to see so many students flourish and learn and then set out on accounting careers. 

It is always an honor to hear from students that my teaching helps them feel prepared to succeed after graduation and that they know I care about their success. 

The students as well as my colleagues are what make OSU a special place.

Choosing OSU was an easy decision as I completed my Ph.D. program.

I came on my recruitment visit and felt a warmth in culture and a lack of silos that are traditionally in academia.

I sought out OSU because of its R1 research status as well as its commitment to excellence in the classroom and teaching.

This blend of excellence in research and teaching was something unique, and out of all of the business schools I could call home, I knew this would be a great place for me to start my career. It is a place that supports my dedication to research and teaching.

Five years later, I am so happy to be a Beaver.

I am honored that donors are creating professorships and chairs to support faculty like me to educate our future business leaders in Oregon and beyond.

I thank them for investing in faculty excellence and thank the College of Business for honoring me with this professorship.

Provost Faculty Match Program

Oregon State University’s provost, Ed Feser, launched the Provost Faculty Match Program, which offers donors an incentive to support outstanding faculty – today and for generations to come. Through the program, donors who create endowed faculty funds with gifts of $250,000 or more will leverage matching funds for the college or unit where the position is based. The matching program has the potential to inspire more than $12.5 million in private support for faculty. 

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