Accounting department struggles to employ steady numbers

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Daily Illini File Photo

Students study in the common area of the Business Instructional Facility.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

Three accounting professors will join the University after the Board of Trustees approved the hires at its meeting last week. All three will replace employees who left, Jon Davis, head of the accounting department, said.  

Spencer Anderson, Michelle Hutchens and Devin Williams are replacing Tracie Majors, Romana Autrey and Qintao Fan.
The appointments of Vikrant Anand, David Godsell and Christie Hayne were also approved at the meeting but are not new hires.

Replacing faculty is the norm for the accounting department, in which turnover is common.

It usually sees two or three departures per year, Davis said. The supply of accounting professors is small and the market is so competitive, so it can be a challenge to find replacements.

“If I just maintain our size, then I’m hitting home runs,” he said.

Accountancy faces a unique challenge: it has the budget to hire, but it cannot find the faculty to hire. In any given year, he said, there may be 10 or 12 qualified prospects available worldwide and 20 schools that want to hire them.

Davis must be conscious of maintaining the program’s quality standards when hiring. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University’s accounting program second in the nation.

Accounting is one of the largest majors at the University, and the average class size ranges between 35 and 40 students. Even if the market for professors was bigger, Davis does not think he would want to hire many more to shrink class sizes.  

“Most of the classes are team based and sit around in groups, so that seems to be a size perspective that’s kind of a sweet spot for delivery,” he said. “We’ve tried to go bigger, but it hasn’t worked out well.”

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A previous version of this article named the three new accounting professors as Vikrant Anand, David Godsell and Christie Hayne.