Tina Carpenter, an associate professor in the Terry College of Business’ Tull School of Accounting, is passionate about her work. Through research and teaching, she strives to help auditors, investors, policymakers, and students better prevent and detect fraudulent financial reporting.
Where did you earn degrees, and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
As a first generation college student, I earned my bachelor’s and master’s in accounting from Florida State University (FSU). I worked as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and auditor for Arthur Andersen for three years before returning to FSU for my Ph.D. As a native of Florida, FSU was a great place for me to build the foundation for my career. I am currently an associate professor and an EY Teaching Fellow in the J.M. Tull School of Accounting in the Terry College of Business. I am passionate about my research, which investigates the prevention and detection of fraudulent financial reporting. I light up when I teach Advanced Accounting and Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination in our master’s of accounting program. Working with and mentoring doctoral students inspires me, and I have enjoyed serving as a team member of my department, college, university and the academy as we strive for excellence.
When did you come to UGA, and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in 2004. This was my first professor position out of my Ph.D. program. I was fortunate to interview at six schools across the country. UGA was my first choice, and I was thrilled to learn that the feeling was mutual. The Tull School had an outstanding reputation for excellence in research and teaching, and I was excited to be a part of that mission. The weather in Athens was also a big plus for my husband, who was an aspiring professional golfer at the time. My family also cheered for UGA as my parents and grandparents and my husband’s parents lived in Florida, my brother and his wife lived in North Carolina, and many of our cousins and aunts and uncles lived in Alabama. UGA was the perfect fit for my family and me in 2004, and that remains true today.
What are your favorite courses, and why?
My favorite courses are Advanced Accounting and Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination. I love the Advanced Accounting course for its rigor and intellectual stimulation. This course provides rich and complex content that is a critical component of the CPA exam that most of our students take. I love to see big light bulbs come on when students ultimately understand a complex computation or issue. Receiving emails and phone calls from former students celebrating their success on passing this difficult exam is a real highlight, especially given that the pass rate for UGA students last year ranked first in the country among public schools. I love the forensic accounting class because it allows me to integrate my research and teaching. This integration stimulates intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. The fraud simulation in the course generates genuine excitement to learn. It is truly awesome to be engaged with my students in their learning.
What interests you about your field?
I am passionate about contributing to the fight against fraud. Investor losses from fraud are significant, and lawsuits against accounting firms are a big concern for the profession. Through my research, I work with auditors, investors and future managers to build knowledge about how we can better prevent and detect fraud. My research contributes to theory and practice. As a result, I have been invited to serve on two fraud panels at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) in Washington D.C., and my research has been cited by the PCAOB, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and in TIME magazine. The United States Department of Defense recently interviewed me for my work in fraud. I feel fortunate that regulators and standard setters are interested in my research and that they are listening. Bringing auditors, investors, managers and policymakers together through research is really making a positive impact.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
My career is full of highlights in research, teaching, and working with faculty and students. I was honored to receive the American Accounting Association’s (AAA) Auditing Section Outstanding Dissertation Award for my dissertation on fraud brainstorming, and I was recently awarded the AAA Deloitte Wildman Medal Award, a national honor for research that has significant impact on practice. Three of my other papers have been awarded the AAA ABO Section Outstanding Manuscript. KPMG, PwC, The Institute of Internal Auditors, and The Institute for Fraud Prevention have provided grants to support my research. I have been recognized for teaching excellence with awards at the department, college, and university levels. However, what is truly the biggest highlight for me are the personal relationships that I have built with master’s and Ph.D. students and fellow faculty. I care deeply about my students and my colleagues. I feel fortunate to be at UGA, surrounded by bright minds and a spirit of succeeding together and celebrating each other.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching and vice versa?
It is truly a pleasure when my research and scholarship inspire my teaching and vice versa. It is the ideal situation. While I have served on many dissertation committees, I am currently chairing my first dissertation of Ashley Austin. I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful doctoral student. She recently worked as an auditor, and she brings fresh and creative ideas that are relevant to the challenges auditors face in practice. She and I share an interest in fraud. She served as my teaching assistant in my Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination class and was an amazing part of running the hands-on fraud simulation experience. Simulations are truly engaging to students and really push them to learn. Through much brainstorming, we have refined our research and were recently honored with two research grants to fund this innovative research that examines the benefits of stimulating auditors’ skepticism about fraud.
What do you hope students gain from your classroom experience with you?
I hope my students gain an appreciation for lifelong learning. I hope that I inspire them to think deeply, and to always be passionate about learning something new each day. I hope that they know that I genuinely care about their success and that I believe in them. I hope that they feel encouraged to be the best that they can be. I hope that I have supported them to try to find that place in their life that they are truly passionate about. I hope that I have challenged them to move out of their comfort zone to understand the importance of hard work and dedication. I hope that they understand that these challenges will allow them to learn and grow. I hope that they know that I love what I do and that I am pulling for each of them to find what they love to do, too.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal students are all of my students at UGA. We are fortunate to attract the best and brightest students. They are all self-motivated, intellectually curious, critical thinkers who are great team players and who also like to have fun when they learn. They have strong technical and personal skills, and it is awesome to watch them grow as people.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
When I need inspiration, I love to sit in the Founders Memorial Garden behind the Terry College of Business. The fresh air and beauty are usually perfect for allowing me to step away from whatever issue I may be facing and really see the big picture and gain perspective. For pleasure, I love attending sporting events with my family. We love walking from our home in Five Points to baseball games, football games, basketball games, swim meets, and gymnastics meets. We all love to cheer on the Dawgs. The energy that comes with us all cheering on our team is priceless. We also love walking around campus to enjoy the beautiful seasons. The color on the trees is breathtaking in fall, and the flowers in spring are equally amazing. We also love to play in our rare snow in winter, and we enjoy the relaxed pace of summer.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Enjoy time with my family and friends. I love to travel, I love to cook, I love to work on taking care of our charmingly older home, and I love to grow flowers, vegetables, and fruit in our garden. I also enjoy exercising, especially outdoors. I am not an expert in any of these areas, but I love to try. I grew up very close to the beach in Florida, so I love going to the beach as often as I can. While we don’t get the chance to do this often, I hope the future provides more opportunities for my family to spend more time on the golf course and the tennis courts. We all enjoy being outdoors and being active, and both golf and tennis provide an opportunity for us to share in these experiences together.
Community/civic involvement includes…
It is so important to me to give back to the community that I am a part of. I enjoy working with our church, our neighbors, and our church preschool (where my little boy attends school) and Barrow Elementary (where my little girl attends school). We love working as a family to create bags of food to send overseas to “Stop Hunger Now,” stuffing “shoeboxes” for families in need at Christmas, and adopting families to provide them with gifts for their children. Walks and runs for various causes invigorate us, and we have special memories of preparing and serving meals for the homeless. We enjoy working at the food bank to prepare bags of groceries for children in our community in need, and we love providing books to children who don’t have any at home. It is rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of those that we serve.
Favorite book/movie and why?
I have two favorite books that I love reading to my children at night before they go to bed. First, “How Full is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer illustrates the power of kindness and the human spirit. It also emphasizes the importance of lifting each other up. Second, “I Believe in You” by Marianne Richmond is special to me as I am so grateful to the many people who have believed in me in my life and in my career. I feel so fortunate to have a wonderful family, husband, and friends who have loved me and supported me every step of the way. I am also grateful to my amazing mentors, especially my dissertation advisor, and my senior faculty in the Tull School of Accounting. They always believed in me. I would not be who I am today without their investment and continuous encouragement and support.
Proudest moment at UGA?
My proudest moment at UGA is making tenure, but I also have had many other special moments that were great too. I was excited to be selected as a UGA Lilly Teaching Fellow and was honored to visit Sapelo Island for the Lilly Fellows spring retreat with my mentor, Dan Smith. I learned so much from Dan about how to be the best professor I could be. I was proud of John Campbell, assistant professor in the Tull School, who was recently selected to be a Lilly Teaching Fellow. I was honored when John asked me to be his mentor, and I enjoyed visiting Sapelo Island again. I am so proud of my students when they graduate and when they pass the CPA exam. I love celebrating the success of my students and colleagues. I am proud to be a part of an incredible faculty that continuously strives for excellence in research and teaching.
Originally published Jan. 18, 2015