Photo by Sterling Morris
Kevin McBeth recently joined the School of Accountancy faculty with the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business and will teach as an associate professor at Utah State University’s regional campus in Tooele. He has spent the previous five years on the research staff of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in Norwalk, Connecticut. Prior to his time at the FASB, Dr. McBeth held faculty positions in accounting at Brigham Young University – Hawaii and at Weber State University. Dr. McBeth earned his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in business administration.
We interviewed Dr. McBeth to learn more about him and his experiences.
I was actually attracted to academics before accounting. My first year of college was like going to a gourmet-quality, 24/7, all-you-can-eat, budget-priced smorgasbord, only for learning instead of dining. I enjoyed it so much that I was susceptible to becoming a professional student. That’s one job that doesn’t pay well, however. When I finally settled on an accounting career and completed my master’s degree in accounting, I knew that I wanted to return to academia as a professor after getting some experience and earning a Ph.D. It took a while, but that’s what I did.
I have deep roots in Utah. There is no other state more committed to higher education for its citizens, and Utah State University is an important part of that legacy. For a third of my professional career I have enjoyed a variety of interesting and worthwhile experiences outside of Utah, but when it came time to move on to another opportunity, I looked homeward. Working in a high-quality school of business like the Huntsman School while being located in Tooele, my home town, is more than I could have hoped for.
I once had a professor who suffered from narcolepsy. Occasionally, he would have a sleep attack in class or in his office. He could feel the onset of the attack and would warn whoever he was with at the time. Then he would suddenly and completely fall into a state of sleep for five or ten minutes. When he woke up, he would simply apologize and take up where he had left off. He had a very warm and engaging personality that made it easier for his students to deal with the awkwardness of the attacks.
I would reiterate two points that I mentioned in an earlier question. First, the business environment is characterized by change and uncertainty. Thus, students need to do more than learn what is currently taught in the business curriculum; they need to learn how to learn on their own and become lifelong learners. Second, a small minority of business people are unethical, but the influence of their unethical behavior on the public’s image of business and on the economy is disproportionately large. Students should graduate with a business ethic and sense of integrity that will keep them from becoming part of that minority.