Faculty Faces: Dr. Karen Oxner

DR. KAREN OXNER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS:

I teach mostly accounting, some other business courses. I also teach corporate strategy, as an example. I’m associate professor in the Department of Economics and Business. I’m also chair.

I was raised in Little Rock, and went to college at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for my BS in Accounting and an MBA. While I was there, I was allowed to teach a class in Principles of Accounting. I really liked it, but after I left UALR I went to work in industry. I worked at a large public accounting firm, which at the time was called Arthur Young. They've now been merged with another firm, and the firm name is Ernst and Young.

But along the way I met and fell in love with my husband. He was an accounting professor. I knew that our lifestyle as a married couple would be and a lot more enjoyable if we had work schedules that were more the same, because public accounting and internal auditing would both involve a lot of travel and overtime. I loved teaching that year that I was in the MBA program at UALR, so after we were married I went back to school at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to get a DBA in Business and completed that and was able to come to work at Hendrix and I've loved it ever since.

Our program is fairly flexible and in terms of what students have to fulfill for their degree. They have a number of choices to make, which is beneficial for them because they can study the areas of economics or accounting that they're more interested in rather than being in a very highly-structured program.

The background that they also get in the liberal arts in terms of humanities and natural science and the other social sciences is of course helpful when they're trying to understand a case study, maybe in business ethics, that they can draw on some other philosophy classes for that. They will usually be exposed to more writing assignments in all those liberal arts classes, which helps them when they get to my corporate strategy class and they have to turn in a written case once a week. They already know how to write well and get to the point and pull out the pertinent facts and information. So a Hendrix business student graduates with a much more well-rounded education than they would get at a state university.

Hendrix also offers a Master of Arts in accounting program which has been very successful. The program was started about 15 years ago when Arkansas and many other states started requiring the equivalent of five years of college in order to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam. So our students stay for a fifth year and in just one year they get their Masters of Arts in accounting whereas most MBA programs might take two years.

The students in that program are very heavily recruited by both public accounting and industry. Just this year, of the fourteen students in the program, twelve have had job offers by December. They've gone on to work at companies like Windstream and Stevens, Inc., which is the largest investment banking firm that's not headquartered on Wall Street which is headquartered in Little Rock, Ark. We have several alumni there. Employers really talk about how students that come from Hendrix have good analytical skills they present themselves well to potentially the firm's clients as well as their colleagues and they really value the well-roundedness that they get here.