By Dr. Kathleen Harris
After earning her Ph.D. in business and accountancy at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Dr. Kathleen Harris joined Washington State University as an assistant professor of accounting. Drawing from her education and five-year experience at Deloitte. Harris teaches both undergraduate and graduate auditing courses. Her primary research interests include audit quality, diversity, corporate governance and the audit process.
When I first decided to go back for a Ph.D., I was nervous about failing but determined to complete the program. Due to my work ethic, I approached each situation knowing I may not hold all the answers, but I harnessed the capability of finding them.
Though my exposure to accounting research was entirely different from what I anticipated, my work ethic enabled me to persevere. During my accounting seminars, I discovered I enjoyed research. Not only were the coursework and seminars fundamental in preparing me for my first job, but also the mentorship and collegiality motivated me each day. I worked closely with my advisor, Dr. Tom Omer, professor and Delmar Lienemann Sr. Chair of Accounting, on developing research, and he provided guidance and support to further my research capabilities. Much like an apprenticeship, this experience offered me an opportunity to refine my understanding of how to research and develop a portfolio.
The students in my doctoral cohort were crucial to my academic development and the ability to finish my program. All four of us had prior accounting experience, and we shared our different institutional knowledge and challenged each other to do our best. We set high expectations for one another, which motivated us to try harder and do better.
Two years ago, I accepted my first academic position as an assistant professor of accounting at Washington State University. Here I continue to develop my audit research, as well as teach auditing at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The understanding of academic research I attained during my Ph.D. program at Nebraska coupled with the connections I forged and networks I built are without a doubt determining factors that afforded me the opportunity to work at a research institution.