Rebecca Shortridge named chair of Department of Accountancy

Rebecca Shortridge
Rebecca Shortridge

Rebecca Shortridge began her new role as chair of the NIU Department of Accountancy Jan. 1.

Shortridge is the Gaylen and Joanne Larson Professor of Accountancy and formerly served as the department’s assistant chair. She is the first woman to hold the chair position in the department’s history.

“It’s an honor to be chosen as the first woman chair of NIU’s Department of Accountancy. Many strong women have served as my role model and mentor and are part of making this opportunity a reality,” Shortridge said.

“I look forward to coming to work every day. A primary reason for this is the outstanding faculty. My colleagues are dedicated to student learning; they assist with challenging course materials and career decisions,” she added. “Further, faculty members are engaged with professionals in practice, active in academic organizations and fun to be with.”

Jim Young, Crowe Horwath Professor of Accountancy, decided to conclude his service as chair following a decade of leadership.

“It has been the highlight of my academic career to be chair,” Young said. “My work has been interesting, widely varied, challenging and stretched me in ways I could not imagine. I now plan to return to my academic passions – research and teaching. A research project on income inequality awaits and I look forward to trying out new ideas in the classroom.”

Young is confident in Shortridge’s qualifications to assume this role.

“During her four years as our department’s assistant chair, Rebecca has developed a wonderful sense of our faculty, students, programs and operations,” Young said. “She has an outstanding record of research and teaching, including a number of national awards for innovation in accounting education.”

Shortridge plans to focus on two key agenda items in the short-term that address current challenges with enrollment and the state budget.

  • Student Enrollment, Outreach and Marketing: “Given the changing higher education landscape, we need to renew our efforts to increase enrollments. One approach is to examine our efforts to provide a strong brand for our program. This might include a redesign of our website and our recruiting materials, continued outreach with community colleges and four-year universities and working to sell our brand.”
  • Financial Stability: “Given the increase in costs for students to attend universities and declining state support, external financial support is critical. While continued scholarship donations and support for faculty are important, increasing discretionary funds at the foundation is crucial. Discretionary funding allows us to support many initiatives in the department.”
Denise Schoenbachler and Jim Young
Denise Schoenbachler and Jim Young

Denise Schoenbachler, dean of the College of Business, congratulates Young and Shortridge on their accomplishments.

“Jim has been a strong leader for Department of Accountancy students, faculty, and alumni over the course of his tenure. I am fortunate to have been able to work alongside Jim as he is a model of integrity, commitment, passion and focus,” Schoenbachler said.

“Jim is a true leader, great colleague and steadfast friend. Students will be successful learning from Jim as he returns to the classroom,” she added. “He has been recognized for his excellence in the classroom as an NIU Presidential Teaching Professor, and he is a tremendous wealth of knowledge.”

The dean said she is “equally thrilled to see Rebecca assume the role as chair.”

“Rebecca will bring new momentum to the department and I will support her as she gets acquainted with her new role,” Schoenbachler said. “She is exuberant and has a vigorous work ethic. She is a role model to young female students in the department and the college.”

Shortridge plans to hit the ground running, knowing she has big shoes to fill: “I am grateful and enthusiastic to continue working on the legacy both Jim and Dean Shoenbachler have forged at NIU.”

The new chair also looks forward to engaging with more alumni in the coming months and encourages their involvement.

“Accountancy alumni offer us tremendous support. They assist our program in mentoring students, creating internship and career opportunities and supporting scholarships,” she said. “I appreciate the relationship between the alumni and the college and will work to elevate partnerships that benefit our students.”

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