Kennesaw State Faculty Honored for Innovation by American Accounting Association

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 24, 2023

Mary Hill
Mary Hill
Kennesaw State University professor Mary Hill has been recognized by the world’s largest community of accounting educators for her work in encouraging graduate students to take an active role in developing new U.S. accounting rules.

For the past two years, Hill’s Master of Accounting students have reviewed proposed changes to U.S. accounting standards and drafted comment letters to the Financial Accounting Standards Board offering their recommendations. While the FASB typically receives letters from accounting firms, investment groups, and other large organizations about rule changes, Hill’s efforts have students excited to participate in the process.

Hill will receive the Innovation in Financial Accounting Education Award from the Financial and Accounting Reporting section of the American Accounting Association at the organization’s mid-year annual meeting next January in Denver, Colo. She will be honored alongside collaborators Christine Botosan, a member of the FASB who has championed Hill’s work, and Gary Taylor, an accounting faculty at University of Alabama who replicated Hill’s success with his own students. The three won for co-authoring the article “Engaging Students in the Standard Setting Process,” which has been published in Issues in Accounting Education.

“It feels amazing to be recognized for taking a risk and doing something that I’ve been passionate about for quite a while,” said Hill. “I worked in accounting for 16 years before going back to school for my Ph.D., and I’ve always been fascinated with standards setting. All accountants should feel like they have a voice in the process, and this project allowed me to share that with my students.”

Mary Hill's students

Students in Hill’s Regulatory Structures and Emerging Issues course work in groups to study the current FASB exposure draft – the name given to proposed rule changes – and develop multiple response letters. They then collaborate on refining everything into a single document that they submit to the FASB as a class.

When Botosan saw one of the letters come across her desk at the FASB, she was eager to collaborate with Hill on her efforts to bring students into the standard setting process.

“I was impressed with the quality of the letter and reached out to Professor Hill to encourage her to find ways to share the project with other academics,” Botosan said. “Comment letters are key to setting high-quality accounting standards. A well-crafted comment letter from a student body contributes to that process, which benefits the accounting community and benefits the students.”

The students involved have said the project has made them feel more connected to the industry they are moving into.

“I think it’s great that, as students, we can comment on new exposure drafts on the same footing as major accounting firms and investment groups,” said MAcc student Blake Wiles. “I feel like participating in this process has helped me appreciate all the accounting standards I’ve learned during my graduate and undergraduate studies.”

Steve Smalt, director of Kennesaw State’s School of Accountancy in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, said the award demonstrates Kennesaw State’s commitment to preparing students to be successful after graduation.

“This award is further evidence that the School of Accountancy faculty and curriculum expose KSU and Coles College students to real-world, relevant interactions on their paths to obtaining professional careers in the accounting profession,” Smalt said. “This is an award and recognition of international acclaim.”

The AAA’s Innovation in Financial Accounting Education award is an international honor, with the AAA reporting that nearly one-fourth of its members are with institutions outside of the U.S.

Coles College Dean Robin Cheramie said the award is a reminder of the way that Coles College faculty embrace innovation.

“We encourage our faculty to explore innovative ways to engage their students with the material, and Mary’s work involving students in the standards setting process is a perfect example of that,” Cheramie said. “The fact that the AAA recognizes this work makes her efforts all the more validating.”

Hill said the best thing about the project is that it motivates her students to stay current with emerging trends in the accounting profession and to think about the industry beyond whatever their particular specialties may be.

“When I introduce the project to my students, I let them know that I am not an expert on the issue in question,” she said. “I am learning about it alongside them. While it is not easy to learn about an emerging issue, my hope is that once these students graduate, they will be more willing to embrace the uncertainty.”

Related Posts