Dr. Kimberly Swanson Church, Director of the School of Accountancy
Faculty endowment: BKD Professor of Leadership
- Bachelor’s in business administration, Pittsburg State University, 1998
- Master’s of accountancy in taxation and information systems, Kansas State University, 2002
- PhD in accounting information systems, Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, 2010
“Endowments are a game changer for faculty who receive them. These gifts can allow for more scholarship, more student engagement, more innovative practices in the classroom and more national recognition through service to our professions.”
Imagine you are an accountant when computers first arrived on the scene.
In a short time, those machines changed almost everything about the way many businesses were run. You would have seen a seismic shift in how your industry operates, and would need to keep up to be successful.
What will be the next tool that could lead to a similar transformation?
Dr. Kimberly Swanson Church researches the answer to that question.
“My specialty area is emerging technologies in the accounting profession,” Swanson Church said.
She explores tools and technologies such as:
- Blockchain. This is a type of distributed database. “A traditional database is within one company. An enterprise blockchain is usually cloud-based and can be shared with many stakeholders — for example, a supply chain like Walmart and its vendors,” Swanson Church said. Blockchain can be viewed as a digital ledger, where business transactions are bundled into “blocks” and stored, or “chained,” together. A blockchain allows data to be stored on thousands of servers around the globe, while letting anyone on the network with secure access see everyone else’s entries almost in real-time. Blockchain technology gives accountants a tamper-evident, verifiable and transparent history of business transactions.
- Robotic process automation. RPA is software that can be programmed to perform high-volume, repetitive, manual tasks. In accounting, RPA may be used to automate tasks such as managing accounts-payable vendor payments, monitoring accounts-receivable customer due dates and other tasks related to inventory management.
- Data-mining software. This software is commonly considered part of data analytics. It can collect and organize all kinds of data, such as costs, sales, payroll and inventory. It allows accountants to analyze that data for business insights. It may help businesses predict future trends or uncover fraud.
- Process-mining software. This software creates information about the “metadata,” or processes of a business, such as orders received, products delivered and payments made. You can think of it as data about data, such as the data collected about a user every time a transaction is entered into the system (user ID, date, time, length of time, IP address, GPS location, etc.). Having this information in an easily accessible and searchable format can help accountants if they need to gather audit evidence or other financial data.
To research these, Swanson Church investigates the technology itself using design science (a research methodology), and use-case methodologies, which explore how people actually use a process or system.
“I also do behavioral surveys with accounting professionals on the use, management, audit and other impacts of emerging technologies on the accounting profession.”
Research benefits curriculum and university
Swanson Church’s students benefit from her insight.
“Whenever I am researching a new technology, I always spin off curriculum related to it. Every semester, the last week is dedicated to emerging technologies. I inform them about technologies they should take ownership to learn. It makes them look informed about current trends when they go into the job market.”
She’s been published many times and won research and teaching awards.
One of her latest honors: She was asked to be a co-chair for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Evolution curriculum committee. Specifically, her expertise was requested to lead a task force to incorporate a data analytics section of the U.S.’s Uniform CPA Examination.
“That kind of national service can bring recognition to Missouri State,” Swanson Church said.
Endowment makes activities possible
She is able to conduct more extensive research because of her endowment.
“This award affords me the opportunity to stay engaged in accounting on a national level,” she said. “Being able to spin off my research into my classroom would not be possible without the support of an endowment. I am allowed to buy back some of my time.”
She has only worked at Missouri State since July 2020, but already has met some local representatives of BKD, LLP, the accounting company that established the endowment.
“BKD has done everything possible to make me feel welcome in the community,” she said. “They are so supportive of the School of Accountancy and the College of Business, and we are very grateful.”
To her, the best part of holding an endowment is that she can contribute to her profession on a national level, reach her own research goals and use these outcomes to elevate accounting students at Missouri State.
“Endowments allow faculty to do a deeper dive into any area where they can bring the most value to the university.”