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NIU Today | Illinois CPA Society names NIU professor educator of the year

‘Truly passionate about student success’

Graduate students can expect a few things when they take Professor Natalie Churyk’s accounting research course.

They will tackle real-world issues. They will interact with business professionals. And they will have a mentor in Professor Churyk.

The William Doyle Endowed Professor of Accountancy, Churyk has been named a 2022 Outstanding Educator by the Illinois CPA Society. Among several categories, she won in the “4-year college with a graduate accounting program” category based on an expansive nomination process.

“Natalie is extremely well-deserving of this prestigious recognition,” said NIU College of Business Dean Balaji Rajagopalan. “Her unwavering commitment to student success – not only in the classroom but in the profession – as well as to her scholarly endeavors puts Natalie among an elite group. Natalie is an exceptional exemplar signifying the long legacy of excellence that has been established over several decades by the NIU Department of Accountancy, its alumni and by the college.”

The statewide honor recognizes educators who have made significant contributions to the education of accounting students through their leadership, teaching excellence and active involvement in the accounting profession.

“Being a professor itself is an amazing reward. When you teach you hope you impact people’s lives. That’s the best you can hope is that you’ve made a difference. To have someone say, ‘We think what you’re doing is phenomenal and worthy of being recognized,’ is just amazing,” Churyk said of the award.

She will officially be honored at a formal reception on June 9 in Chicago, but the accolade already has earned university-wide praise.

Well-deserved, the recognition places Churyk in a prestigious group of renowned faculty throughout the state, said Brad Cripe, Ph.D., the Donald E. Kieso Endowed Chair in Accountancy and a presidential teaching professor.

“One of the best things about being chair of the department is the opportunity to recognize outstanding faculty,” Cripe said. “The Department of Accountancy, College of Business and Northern Illinois University are all honored by this accolade for Natalie.”

Churyk joined NIU in 2001 and began teaching the graduate research course she now teaches in 2006. Heavily skewed towards statistical research when Churyk inherited it, the class now incorporates real-world professionals and issues.

Churyk, also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Accounting Education, has developed a network of partners and managers from firms who come into the classroom and review case studies with students. Students then present their findings to the professionals, using the same databases used in the field.

“It makes it real. This is a day in their life,” Churyk said. “A lot of times, students may enter a research class and say, ‘I’ll never do this.’ They’re learning theory, but how do you apply that theory? That’s the exciting part of the class for me, being able to apply the theory to real-world problems. Partners I’ve worked with for 15 years, they come back semester after semester. They give their time to our students, which is absolutely amazing.”

When Churyk first started teaching the research course, she sought professional research texts and could only find one. The authors of the book—in its 7th edition at the time—soon asked Churyk to join them as a co-author. The text, “Accounting and Auditing Research: Tools and Strategies,” is now in its 10th edition.

Many of Churyk’s students attribute their career success to the experience and the networking her course offered. Several wrote recommendation letters on Churyk’s behalf as part of the Illinois CPA Society Award nomination process.

“Churyk’s class is structured in a way where students get the opportunity to deal with complex issues while interacting with business professionals who guide you in the right direction,” said former student Mohammed Khan, now a senior auditor with Ernst & Young LLP. “This helped me develop a more robust understanding of accounting research and develop connections who have been pivotal in my career… Apart from being a great instructor, Dr. Churyk is truly passionate about her student’s success.”

Other students spokes of Churyk’s constant availability and ability to connect with students. Along with keeping the classroom current, Churyk strives to create an open, participatory environment.

“She has always shared her network and gone out of her way on numerous occasions to give me sound advice and support that have helped me develop as an individual,” wrote former student Zohra Firdose, now a staff auditor at Ernst & Young LLP.

“Because of Natalie’s devotion to her students and her ability to connect with students on a personal level, many students including myself have benefited from her friendship and teaching style,” wrote Joseph Petitti, a former student now working as a CPA.

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