Faculty Focus: Jim Stekelberg

[caption id="attachment_57938" align="alignleft" width="200"] Jim Stekelberg, Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting[/caption] Jim Stekelberg joined the Department of Accounting in January 2017. Prior to making his move to Colorado, he completed his Ph.D. in accounting at the University of Southern California and taught at the University of Arizona for four years. Stekelberg says he stumbled into teaching tax “completely by accident.” He first majored in history and music as an undergrad. “Then I realized jobs were tough to come by,” he says. “But I lived near USC, and when I discovered they offered a one-year Master’s program in tax, I thought I’d give it a try.” He had previously considered going to law school, but found the shorter, intensive focus on one area of the law appealing. “It wasn’t the most well thought-out decision,” he laughs. But now, he says he’s glad he made the switch. In addition to teaching, Stekelberg conducts research into topics that affect tax policy – and finds himself drawn to issues that go beyond purely academic concepts. His most recent paper relates to the ramifications of state tax haven legislation, and can be read here. Moving to CSU While Stekelberg was teaching in Arizona, a doctoral student there, James Brushwood, graduated and took a position at Colorado State University. Professor Brushwood spoke very highly of CSU and life in Fort Collins, and when a position for a tax professor opened at the University, Stekelberg says he was immediately interested. He was drawn to Colorado, in part because it’s an unexplored area for him. Having visited the state only briefly before, he had never had the chance to spend time in Fort Collins. Now that he’s here, he’s looking forward to enjoying the outdoors. He loves hiking, backpacking, and rafting – and is also starting to take up snowshoeing. As for his time on campus, Stekelberg is enjoying the CSU community. “The students here are excellent,” he says, adding, “We’ve got an excellent department of brilliant yet down-to-earth faculty, and students that are engaged and highly motivated.”

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Faculty Focus: Margarita Lenk - Semester at Sea

[caption id="attachment_57945" align="alignnone" width="870"] In Greece, students worked on case analysis in the open air of Pnyka, and presented their ideas in the same place where the world’s first outdoor democratic congress took place — in view of the Acropolis and the Temple of Athena.[/caption] Ahh… a study-abroad trip with classes set both on a cruise ship and on land in some of the world’s most famous and most beautiful locations. Sounds like a dream come true — and it is — but it’s also incredibly hard work. Associate Professor of Accounting Margarita Lenk spent 18 months preparing to teach as a faculty member for her recent Semester at Sea. “That was intense,” she says. “Finding all the data required to explain how accounting, entrepreneurism and business ethics work in so many different countries.” The Fall 2016 voyage took about 560 student participants from 70 countries, to visit nations all over the world. The itinerary included Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, Brazil, Trinidad, Peru, and Ecuador – taking the group across the Atlantic ocean (during the U.S. presidential election), and through the Panama Canal. Lenk taught courses in Financial Accounting, Entrepreneurship, and Business Ethics. And each class session featured direct ties, from lecture content to the country the students were about to visit. The experience was both incredibly challenging and endlessly fascinating, for teachers and students alike. “Every day on the ship, there was intensive teaching from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” she says. “These classes are deeply integrated, and faculty are very intertwined with student life. So from a teaching perspective, it’s for professors who really enjoy that type of intensity.” “Lifelong Learners” also joined in on the trip. These individuals use Semester at Sea programs as their own opportunities to travel, while giving back through guest lectures. On Lenk’s trip, these Lifelong Learners included Conrad Hermann (an investment banker from Silicon Valley), and Elaine Church, a retired PwC partner from Washington D.C., who worked on the U.S. Congress committee to create pension legislation. Learning in Trinidad On land, students had 5 days at each port, with on-site excursions led by the professors. Lenk herself led dozens of these excursions. In Trinidad, for instance, she took her students to the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School for an accounting class and lecture from a top economist based there. “He explained to us,” she notes, “that the GDP in Trinidad is 300 percent higher than in other Caribbean islands, due to the fact that they have oil reserves there. However, they have recently learned that these reserves will only last ten more years.” So the students got to learn about, and discuss potential solutions to making up for the future loss of this valuable resource. In addition, her class heard from the head of the nation’s accounting regulation board. “He talked to us about why they have adopted accounting standards there,” says Lenk. “And we also heard from a local sociologist who explained the ramifications on the people who live and work there.” Students were then taken for a visit to the local KPMG office in Trinidad. “They gave us a four-hour presentation on professionalism, and it was very powerful,” she notes. “We were so honored that KPMG took the time to work with us there.” Other Rich, Hands-On Learning Opportunities Every port provided similar educational opportunities. Lenk says the Semester at Sea program currently has relationships built with 250 universities — so students are able to meet with important scholars and business people, everywhere they go. In Greece, their Business Ethics field class took them to the ALBA Graduate Business School where the met with a top agricultural economist, Maria Ines Carpi. There, they learned about the country’s approach to issues of land and water use, pesticides, GMOs, the Russian embargo, and the growing popularity of fake “Greek” products (like yogurt). In Morocco, students took on the role of advisors, helping six startup businesses prepare for their appearance at the International Renewable and Sustainable Energy Conference in Marrakech. “With the consultation,” Lenk says, “these entrepreneurs were completely prepared in all areas of business development: financial risk, operations, and more.” Lessons for Life For Lenk, other instructors, and hundreds of students, the Semester at Sea provided an unmatched learning and teaching opportunity. “The globalization of content, flipping the classroom, and the level of student engagement are things I’ll bring with me as I continue teaching at CSU,” says Lenk, noting that the insights she gained have given her ideas for new research as well. Once she returned, she said, “It was really good to be home. It’s a long time to be away, and I’m always grateful to return to CSU.” Some of the Sights from Semester at Sea The Semester at Sea is all about having an intensive, immersive learning opportunity that offers students and unmatched opportunities to learn about the global economy. During the Fall 2016 semester, about 20 CSU students joined Lenk for the trip. Along the way, the group was able to see many world-famous sights. Here are just a few:

  • Greek islands and ruins
  • La Sagrada Familia Cathedral and other Gaudi architecture in Spain
  • Rick’s Café in Casablanca
  • The Atlas Mountains
  • Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Iguazu Falls and the Amazon River in Brazil
  • Playa Santa Teresa in Costa Rica
 

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Program Focus: Etiquette Dinner

Say you’ve starting interviewing for your first career job, and you’re on your third interview for an opportunity to work with a highly reputable accounting firm. You’re invited to join high-ranking representatives for a formal dinner at an elegant restaurant. When you arrive, the table is set for a five-course meal, with more glasses, silverware, and plates than you’ve ever seen in your life. What do you do? Without the proper training, etiquette educator Marie Hornback says, you might have to follow others’ lead. Her goal is to train young people in the proper handling of such situations, so that they can demonstrate their own confidence and leadership — and improve their chances of landing the job. That’s the reason for the etiquette dinner that was recently offered for Department of Accounting students. Hornback specializes in training others in skills of a bygone era — everything from calligraphy and cursive writing for young kids, to formal dining etiquette for college students. At the February 8 dinner, led by Hornback, students came to a five-course meal featuring shrimp cocktail, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. “What I do,” she says, “is walk them through how to eat that shrimp cocktail — what to do, and what utensils to use, then how to eat soup correctly, and so on. In fact, we cover everything from how to take their seat, and how to place their napkins on their laps, through to placing the napkin back on the table at the end of the meal.” Why etiquette? Kathie Schultz, a 1978 CSU graduate who spent time working in public accounting, helped fund the etiquette dinner. She wanted to give back, her employer wanted to match her personal donation to the Department of Accounting, and she wanted to find a unique way to contribute to today’s students. During her time at CSU, she says, she got to participate in an accounting banquet with some similar elements. “Even if there were just a few tips here and there,” Schultz says, “each thing I learned was one less thing I had to worry about when I later went into business dinners. I was much more at ease, and knew how to make others feel at ease, too. So I could concentrate on whatever business we needed to talk about.” Hornback’s training gives students the ability to understand how to confidently navigate not just a five-course dinner, but anything from a casual dining setting, to a 14-course meal in Japan. Carli Judson, a junior double-majoring in accounting and finance, said she was very grateful for the opportunity. “I learned so much,” she says, “including the order in which drinks are served, and in what glasses; how to politely refuse drinks; what each utensil is for; and how to politely eat a roll — which is way more complicated than you’d think!  It was very important to learn all these things while doing them. I don't think I could have effectively understood or remembered most things otherwise.” Schultz hopes the dinners can continue in future years, she says. “I’m a very lucky girl to have gone to school at CSU… I can’t thank Audrey Gramling enough for being so open to discussing different ideas for things people want to do for those studying there today. It really makes you want to stand up and pay it forward.” Etiquette Tip for Used Silverware Marie Hornback says you should never put used silverware back on the table between courses, if servers don’t remove them with your dishes. Not so much because it would bother anyone else — but because you won’t want to use the silverware again if you do let it touch the table. If your main plate is gone and you’re waiting for your next course, here are some polite and sanitary options:

  • Turn your fork upside down and place the tines on an unused knife if you have one
  • Place it on your small bread plate if it’s still in front of you
  • Set it on a napkin or other paper product left on the table
 

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