Mary Teal Named Chair of AISF
Mary Teal Named Chair of AISF, School of Business –
First 'Dr. John C. Rich Distinguished Accounting Professorship'
Dr. Mary Teal has been named the new Chair of the Accounting, Information Systems, and Finance Department in the School of Business at Emporia State University (ESU). Dr. Teal received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting and MBA from the University of Central Oklahoma, her Juris Doctorate from Oklahoma City University, a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University, and her Post-Doctoral Bridge Certificate in Finance and Accounting from the University of Florida. Dr. Teal is an attorney at law, a certified public accountant, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and has been a Professor at the University of Central Oklahoma since 2005. A published author, Dr. Teal has given many presentations, contributed to journal articles, and has authored three books.
Dr. Teal will be ESU’s first to be honored as the “Dr. John C. Rich Distinguished Accounting Professorship” as Chair of the Accounting, Information Systems, and Finance Department. This million-dollar endowed professorship honors Dr. John C. Rich, a faculty member who has served ESU for 50 years. Dr. Teal met with Dr. Rich personally, and has this to say about the honor, “We had a remarkable and significant conversation. In fact, I happily anticipate more. I left that day with insightful and encouraging words imprinted in my mind. He is leaving with a profound legacy that has been etched in stone. I am honored and humbled to be stepping into this distinguished role.”
Below are a series of questions Dr. Teal was asked in an online interview. Her answers reveal her attributes—volunteer, entrepreneur, thankful, relational, leader, student centered, problem solver, proud, mentor, giver, educated, teacher. She will begin her role as Chair on July 20, 2020.
- Why did you decide to get in to the professorate?
Honestly, I chose it because it chose me. It is acknowledged as a profession that keeps on giving. For me, this is a position that proves to be priceless, selfless, and timeless.
- What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a professor now for over 15 years?
The most rewarding element is student success. My objective has always been to teach in a way that allows students to learn. When students engage in this process, they can embrace their potential to comprehend. Then naturally, they are enabled and empowered to evolve from learners to thinkers and doers.
- In your role as accounting professor, what degree do you find yourself circling back to the most?
As an accounting professor, I rely heavily on my undergraduate education. My Bachelors of Science in Accounting serves as a foundation for my accounting knowledge. It also led to designation as a Certified Public Accountant. With this degree and my designation, I have continued to extend my knowledge through application. I remain current and active in the field by engaging in continuing education, teaching, pursuing scholarship, and reaching out to serve the community.
- What is your favorite class to teach?
I love to teach in general. I have taught accounting, finance, law, ethics, e-commerce, information technology, human resources, management, and mental health-based topics.
- What drew you to get a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy? Did it tie in with your J.D.?
I come from a religious background. My foundation was forged, built, and grounded in the church. My father and mother, John and Mary Teal, centered their life around helping people. My parents were therapists without degrees. They constantly offered the best guidance and a beautiful open door; you could walk right in, receive an instant welcome, and prepare for words of advice. They often taught us, that to whom much is given, much is required. They demonstrated our family’s obligation to humanity.
Their example inspired me to be a people person who is sincerely compelled to problem solve. When sitting in either seat as an attorney or a licensed marriage and family therapist, I offer counsel. These distinct settings are very much the same in nature. Individuals come to tell their story and to share an issue(s) that has occurred along their way. They are seeking their best outcome on the other side of the challenge. In each capacity, I work in an insightful and ethical manner to assist in bringing triumph to a matter.
- Can you expand more on your Law and Accounting professional careers?
I have found a great partnership between Law and Accounting. While each is its own specific discipline, they are powerful when combined. By gazing through this joint lens, I can gain a holistic view or perspective in a given situation. It is almost always that one has an impact on the other. I see this significance as I actively practice law in the areas of family, immigration, probate, and tribal court. The same relevance surfaces in my role as a CPA, either independently or on behalf of a firm—this connection largely occurs within taxation.
- Of your collegiate service, what has made the biggest impact for others, and for you?
I have served inside the classroom at the college and also directed this service externally.
My years in the classroom have been boundless. I have enjoyed my innovative and intentional work with the students and the creative learning space that has evolved. My most recent educational theme for my students at the beginning of the semester was “Come for the Challenge.” I introduced new challenges each period and then the world introduced its own. While I expect for my themes to enlighten our learning experience, I had no idea how relevant this aspect became to our ability to finish the semester strong. It is this type of impact that allows the classroom to mirror life.
In stepping outside the college classroom, I worked both personally and professionally at one of our local high schools for approximately eight years. I established a “Clean Slate” program where high school students were given a new chance to have a fresh start. For the enrolled students, we worked on aspects such as attitudes, attendance, integrity, social skills, and educational pursuits, including the prospect of graduating and going to college. This program was student focused by design.
During this time, the Oklahoma Bar Association sponsored a class for high school students to gain exposure to business law and ethics. This class was offered for three years, and I was privileged to teach this course and work with great students, staff, and administration at John Marshall Mid High School. I will never forget those life changing experiences.
- How do you work with students and their internships?
I have supported both high school level and college-based internships. At the high school level, I created internship opportunities where students perform job shadowing. When mentoring, I normally expose these students to the classroom and to the courtroom. I include opportunities for them to volunteer and to provide community service to individuals and to institutions such as nursing homes. When working with college students, I have worked with them to secure internships. I have also supported students by supervising on these occasions, supporting them, and monitoring their progress.
- What is a “Scholarship Selfie”?
When students at my former institution were awarded a scholarship from the College of Business, they were asked to acknowledge the donor. One way to thank the donor was by providing a picture of them, the recipient, with their favorite professor. I was honored to be selected and featured in these pictures. The celebration of their achievements was definitely a measure of student success that I loved to be involved in with them.
- What’s been your favorite Board of Directors to serve on and why?
I enjoyed holding my initial board position. I was President of the Board of Directors and Vice-President of my local church for over a decade. I learned the value of volunteerism and shared expertise on behalf of a certain body and a common cause. More recently, I accepted board memberships with the Metro Technology Centers, a career and technology education center. I was invited to serve on their Accounting Advisory Board, their Legal Advisory Board, and their Administrative Assistant Advisory Board. I have been able to continue service on each of these boards throughout the past years (2014–Present). During this time, I have actively communicated and linked the intersect between business and vocational education. My favorite aspect has been setting on the many business panels and addressing the students. These interactions are a valuable part of expressing, “what you know now” so the student is not confronted with the “what I wish someone would have told me” later. These two worlds connect during these sessions, and everyone walks away with more knowledge.
- Of your professional memberships, which are you the most proud of? Which influences you the most?
I am happy and proud to be a member of each of the professional organizations that I have joined and served. If I had to choose one to emphasize, I would select OK Ethics. This is a statewide and nationally recognized forum for promoting business ethics. Its purpose is to establish high personal and corporate ethical standards. The members strive to gain recognition for a state that values integrity in business dealings.
During my tenure with this organization, I worked to form a high school ethics team for the inaugural high school ethics bowl in the state. I served as an ethics coach and we participated in three annual competitions. I was able to help these students learn about ethics, analyze cases, and present ideas. The ultimate goal was for them to lead ethical lives. This organization allowed ethics to be a prevalent conversation through membership meetings, influential organizational leaders, and by recognition. We were the recipients of a prestigious Community Impact Award followed by other nominations. I remain influenced because I see these students today—they still refer to ethics and its principles, as they continue to build their own standards. I also continue to stand on my own ethics platform in numerous ways.
- Of your awards and honors, which are you the most proud of?
I am proud to be a recipient of the Oklahoma Accounting Educator Award. The Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants recognizes distinguished educators for teaching excellence, innovating educational techniques, motivating students, and contributing to the accounting profession. The award is granted to only one four-year educator in the state. I was also awarded with a scholarship that I presented to two of my top accounting students at the time.
I must share that I was supported by my longtime friend and former colleague, Professor Emeritus Charles Pursifull, CPA, who said, “I was continuously impressed with her commitment to student learning and involvement, including her creativity, listening skills, abundant positive energy, and professional demeanor. It was an honor and privilege to partner with her at UCO.” It was also my honor to be influenced by his abundant knowledge and his warm heart, especially for students. He recently passed away at the sweet age of 90. We used to strategize before our classes and come up with the greatest game plans to win the day. We were the only professors who ever brought our classes together for our review day competitions. He was also instrumental in my journey to this position. We would encourage each other to take Joy, and that is what I am doing in this moment.
- What is your best attribute that you are bringing to the School of Business?
My best attribute is people power. The language of business translates into good relationships with great people. I believe that outreach is an “opening.” That is, an open-door opportunity. When entering this door with optimism, relationships can be founded and rapport can be established. These meaningful connections forge a path to a boundless future. There is power in a “neighbor building” moment and in the kind communication that transpires. Whether the moment necessitates persistence, persuasion, prowess, or patience, it has a defined start and an exact end. It starts with the offer of a great day to your neighbor, and it ends with a connection. Additionally, it is helpful to know that we are all neighbors.
- How will you use your professional and teaching experience as the Chair of the Accounting, Information Systems, and Finance Department?
I feel that this position is a natural next step for me after years of preparation. My experience has been realized through God, family, and life. More specifically, I was a small business owner of an Information Technology company. I was able to teach and train individuals, executives, and groups using my own originally developed curriculum. I recall securing private contracts, developing information systems on demand, and simplifying the life of clients. If they could envision it, then we could and eventually would find a solution that typically exceeded their imaginations. That was a thoughtful process that enveloped observation and creation at its best.
This particular skill set and my other experiences are portable and transferable. I will use these attributes to address issues, align expectations, and advance progress. These will be shared experiences, with shared expertise, because we have a unified vision that requires aspects from us all. We are in this together—this room, this meeting, this department, this college, this world. Notwithstanding the location, I trust that we can meet to find congruence.
- What are you looking forward most in this move?
I am ready to apply my leadership abilities at an institution that has been deemed extraordinary and accomplished. I am excited to be at Emporia State because it welcomes collaboration and innovation. Furthermore, it offers students opportunities to thrive both personally and professionally with its recognized programming and its highly qualified faculty. So the question becomes, “Why not come to Emporia State?” It will be like a second home for me. My parents lived in several counties in Kansas during the Great Depression. They held fond remembrances of the area, and I would like to possess the same. It would also make them proud to know that I have found my place in Kansas.