Drs. Thomas Omer and Marjorie Shelley headed north this summer leaving Texas A&M University to join the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration School of Accountancy. The husband and wife team were not initially looking to leave their distinguished positions in Texas until they fielded phone calls last year from Dr. Donde Plowman, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business Administration, and Dr. Paul Shoemaker, director of the School of Accountancy and BKD, LLP Professor of Accountancy, explaining the opportunities in Nebraska.
Omer, who is the new professor and Delmar Lienemann Sr. Chair of Accounting at CBA, quickly became excited about the room to grow in Lincoln.
“To use a cliché, it was time for another rodeo,” Omer said. “Part of the intrigue is Nebraska has entered the Big Ten and in academics that means big competition. We know enough from our past work what it takes to produce the kind of research and the quantity of research to meet the competition. Beyond that, Donde is an energizer bunny type person which I enjoy because it means there is someone here who wants things to happen, and I’m willing to jump in and commit to a leadership role particularly in research.”
Omer received his Ph.D. from Big Ten cohort, the University of Iowa. He sees student success as a direct reflection of the stature of the institution.
“Working with doctoral students is my favorite thing to do. I have placed my students at Big Ten schools and know what those schools expect. It’s a challenge to replicate that at Nebraska,” he said.
Shelley, associate professor in accountancy, also has a background in the Big Ten having worked at the University of Chicago.
“We’re excited about where Nebraska is headed,” she said. “I don’t see any significant roadblocks to making progress here. When Donde and Paul contacted us they laid out what they wanted to do at CBA to compete with Big Ten schools. I was a little nervous about coming here because this is the smallest of the schools I’ve worked at, but when I experienced Lincoln I saw how nice it is. I’m not at all hesitant about being here.”
Shelley grew up three hours south of Lincoln in the Kansas City area, and Omer grew up in the Nebraska towns of Central City, Valentine and Ainsworth.
“People outside Nebraska are sending signals that UNL's College of Business is moving in a positive direction,” Omer said. “We’re getting applicants from good schools that are recognizing Nebraska wants to compete favorably in the Big Ten.”
Dr. Amanda Gonzalez is one faculty member joining the school this fall that Omer singled out as a prize hire.
“We like her a lot because she happens to be a student of Dr. Katherine Schipper from the Duke Fuqua School of Business. Katherine is a person I hold in high esteem because of her phenomenal thinking, and now we have one of her students on board. What better place to work when you start putting those kinds of people in the same halls that you’re in.”