Chad Stefaniak said he vividly recalls being a student of some of the current faculty in the accounting school at Central Michigan University in 2002.
In fall 2013, those same faculty members will become his colleagues, as Stefaniak will become the new chair of the accounting department.
“It’s actually kind of the perfect storm,” he said. “(My wife, Andrea, and I) just had our first child, Selah Grace, 18 months ago, so moving back closer to family is always great. And professionally, it works out great because it gives me an opportunity to lead the department that really has meant so much to me for a lot of years.”
Although there was some initial hesitation before Stefaniak accepted the position, he said it quickly receeded.
“These were my faculty 10 years ago, and at first, I wondered if that would be weird,” he said. “But when I interviewed, it was awesome. They just saw me as a child of the house and were proud of what I had accomplished as a CMU graduate.”
Stefaniak, 32, received his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Alabama after receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting from CMU. He is currently an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University. He will begin work on campus in June and will officially become chair on Aug. 16, earning a salary of $160,000 per year.
“He’s a world-class researcher, a great teacher and a charismatic CMU alum,” said Business Administration Dean Charles Crespy. “We did a lot of due diligence, because our accounting area is not just a department, it’s a school. So, it’s a really important hire for us.”
Stefaniak said he wants to continue the legacy several CMU faculty members have been part of for decades.
“You can look at the pool of accounting professors and realize these professors have spent the last 30-plus years of their life creating a really solid accounting program,” he said. “I think there is pressure and excitement being involved in something like that.”
According to the 2012 Brigham Young University accounting research rankings, Stefaniak is tied for 18th in the world in experimental (behavioral) audit research.
“Accounting research is interesting, because it is questionable just how much of an impact it has on the practice,” Stefaniak said. “Sometimes, research can be done for research sake. But, my goal is to have some sort of practical significance and mostly try to help audits become better.”
Stefaniak also brings a teaching style that focuses more on dialogue rather than lecture.
“(In) my classes now, I really try to facilitate conversation,” he said. “I feel like if you can open a classroom up and get students to engage in dialogue instead of having them sit there and listen to me talk, I think they’re going to learn a lot more.”
Although he has gained a lot of experience in his young career, Stefaniak said he would not be where he is today without the education he received at CMU.
“When I graduated in 2002 and went on to my master’s program at Alabama, I was shocked,” he said. “I guess I didn’t really understand the quality of the education I was receiving at CMU until I went down there. In the master’s program there, they kind of struggled to give me certain courses because of the course load I already had at CMU.”