Nov. 21, 2002 by Jeany Llorente NMSU News Center
Sherry K. Mills, associate professor of accounting at New Mexico State University, has been selected as the 2002 New Mexico Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The award, recognized as one of the most prestigious awards honoring professors, salutes outstanding faculty members who excel as teachers and influence the lives and careers of their undergraduate students.
“I’m very happy,” Mills said before leaving Las Cruces for Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Professors of the Year awards were announced today (Thursday, Nov. 21). “This award recognizes my work in collaboration with my colleagues.”
Mills, a New Mexico State faculty member for 14 years, believes accounting is the language of business.
“Numbers are not just numbers,” she said. “They represent the underlying economic activities and decisions made by business owners and managers.”
The U.S. Professors of the Year program, initiated by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), looks for candidates who have extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching demonstrated by excellence in the following areas: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contribution to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.
Manson P. Dillaway, department head and professor of accounting and business computing systems, said Mills “exceptionally matches” the award requirements.
“Dr. Mills is a conscientious adviser, a supporter of student activities, a good ambassador to campus recruiters and other potential employers,” he said. “Frequently, students inform me how they benefit from the active involvement and realism in her courses. I have grown accustomed to hearing outstanding endorsements from our students for Dr. Mills’ classroom brilliance.”
A former student wrote of her abilities: “Throughout the course, Dr. Mills demonstrated collaboration with her colleagues. She welcomed input from the students at all times and was receptive to new ideas. She was approachable and always willing to assist me. I found her to be an excellent professor and would not hesitate to take another course she taught.”
Throughout her teaching career at NMSU, the Lubbock, Texas, native has played a major role in taking the accounting department to new heights.
She is co-creator of the “ET² Project,” a project that involves multi-media presentations, individual and group work, management accounting cohesion cases and hands-on activities. The project has garnered six awards since 1993. She also helped to create a six-hour junior-level business course called “The Design and Delivery of Goods and Services.” In this course, which is team-taught by three professors from different business disciplines, students learn about marketing, operations management, and management accounting through lectures and labs designed to prepare teams of students to complete an integrated business plan project.
Her teaching philosophy entails enthusiasm, creativity and open-mindedness.
“If you are not enthusiastic about what you do, it’s hard to catch the students’ interests,” she said. “You have to be creative and look for new ways to stimulate students learning. You have to be open to improvement. You have to be willing to listen to your students and your faculty team.”
Mills received her bachelor’s in business administration in 1972, her master’s in accounting in 1975 and her Ph.D. in 1988 from Texas Tech University.
Her other awards include the New Mexico Society of Certified Public Accountants’ Accounting Educator of the Year award in 1999, the American Accounting Association’s Innovation in Accounting Education Award in 1996 and the Outstanding Teacher Award from the College of Business Administration and Economics at NMSU in 1993.
This is the third time an NMSU professor has received the New Mexico Professor of the Year award. G. Larry Mays, a professor of criminal justice, was honored in 1997; and Wenda R. Trevathan, department head and professor of sociology and anthropology, was honored in 1994.