"By examining the roles of powerful high priests, and by studying how ritualistic symbolism is used to mask social and economic conflict while preserving moral and social order, a deeper understanding of financial audits can emerge."
Mark Bettner believes that a yawn is a silent yell. "I am forever committed to being energetic and enthusiastic," he says. "If I'm not bored, students aren't bored." Some might see accounting as a dry subject. But he says he won't let that happen – not on his calculator watch! (For more than 20 years, Bettner has worn a calculator watch, which his students consider to be his trademark.)
A professor of accounting and financial management, Bettner has degrees in business administration and accounting, but his background also includes three years in theater training. Bettner says he draws often on that experience to bring life, humor and energy to the classroom, recognizing that students may have trouble contextualizing some of the subject matter he teaches.
"I am committed to teaching and scholarship approaches that use storytelling and metaphor to bring otherwise sterile concepts to life," he says, his face lighting up as he describes a study in which he and his coauthor contextualized the audit process through lenses of ritual and ceremony. "By examining the roles of powerful high priests, and by studying how ritualistic symbolism is used to mask social and economic conflict while preserving moral and social order, a deeper understanding of financial audits can emerge."
Bettner has also studied how the intricacies of financial reporting can express themselves through music. He and his colleagues converted raw stock performance data into musical scores, which when played through a digital synthesizer provided sensory insight that helped signal the direction in which a stock's price was about to move. The study was presented at several academic conferences and was published in an international accounting journal.
Bettner says Bucknell's commitment to the liberal arts motivates him to experiment with interdisciplinary approaches to his teaching and his scholarship. These interdisciplinary approaches appear to be highly effective, he says, citing that Bucknell's School of Management students routinely have one of the highest pass rates in the state on the uniform CPA examination. Moreover, Bucknell students do extremely well in national case study competitions sponsored each year by Johnson & Johnson and PricewaterhouseCoopers. "Although Bucknell is often the smallest school invited to compete," says Bettner, "we make it all the way to the national finals on a regular basis."
Posted September 5, 2013
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