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Accounting & Business Law

Accounting Annual Report Fall 2020: Letter from the Chair

Nov. 16, 2020

Bradley Lail

Photo of Bradley Lail

Over the years, we have developed a strong culture built upon faculty and staff that seek to influence the lives of our students and advance our profession. Last year, our annual report shared how we use our abilities to serve the local community and partner with organizations globally to serve Christ in different ways. We celebrate those service opportunities that unite us in ways that make the Department of Accounting & Business Law a truly great place to work.

This past year has brought about significant changes that have challenged our culture. As is often the case with our Christian walk, when we feel like things are going well, new challenges interrupt comfortability but provide opportunities for growth. The spring of 2020 provided such an interruption and we are working tirelessly as a department to work through the practical needs to deliver course content while also trying to maintain that family-like culture. The social unrest created from racial inequality has also challenged the pre-existing structure and challenge our department to improve.

With the spread of COVID-19 in the middle of the spring semester, we made a dramatic shift to a fully online teaching experience. While technological advances have made this shift possible, usually we have months to plan but the pandemic did not allow that to take place. It was not a perfect transition but I would call it a success given the flexibility provided by the faculty. Through calls, Zoom, Webex, Teams and the like, we supported one another and provided the students what they needed to complete the semester. It was not the path any of us would have chosen but the spirit with which we took on the challenge made it a surmountable task.

One of the key things we have learned from this sudden transition is that online learning has its place within the curriculum and I believe it will enhance our learning environment for years to come. We already offered a few online courses so the change was not completely new. While I do not expect to shift to a heavy online platform, utilizing online methods to supplement the classroom will now be more effective than ever before. The challenge created an opportunity!

The largest challenge with our shift to online and the resulting changes to the fall semester is the physical separation. As a department, we thrive when around one another as faculty and with our students. We also know the students suffer by not having one another and not having the opportunity to fully participate in learning with their professors. Virtual calls help but they are not the same. We are exploring ways to create unifying experiences until we get back to campus full time. I welcome any suggestions you might have as a Baylor supporter.

While I remain confident in our ability to create a great learning environment no matter the circumstances, the challenge that needs our greatest attention is racial injustice. While the challenge is bigger than just our department, we can utilize our strengths to create opportunities to improve the betterment of the accounting profession. As Christians, I believe this is an area where we as Baylor University can lead out. At the time of this report, we have not worked out all the details or steps we plan to take, but it will begin with communicating to our students that racial equality is a priority for us. Through conversations with our advisory board, alumni and university administrators, we plan to implement a mentorship program to ensure all our students have the support they need to progress through our programs and are prepared for the profession. I look forward to sharing our progress in the months to come and welcome any feedback.

Thank you for your continued support and I am always available to visit. I pray the next few months provide you new ways to create opportunities through the challenges that face us all.

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