Accountancy professor Kaitlin Newkirt sits on a chair in the lobby of Smith Hall. She has a laptop open in front of her.

Faculty Spotlight: Kaitlin Kewkirk, CPA, MACC, MST- Accountancy

May 24, 2023

Kaitlin Newkirk doesn’t have to wonder if leaving her corporate job to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher was the right decision. She knows it was the right move.

Newkirk, an Assistant Professor in Xavier University’s Accounting Department, recently had lunch with one of her former students. That meeting was one reward among many – a reminder that chasing one's dream is a worthwhile pursuit.

“I taught her for the first semester of her freshman year in Introductory Financial Accounting, and she was so nervous,” Newkirk said. “She was having a tough time adjusting to the world of college and she was in my office all the time. She was an Accounting major. I had her again later at Xavier in my Introduction to Taxation class, and she had just grown so much more confident and did beautifully in that class.”

When Newkirk met her for lunch recently, she saw her former student two years into her accounting career, climbing the corporate ladder. They laughed remembering how nervous she used to be, and how much time she spent in Newkirk’s office. Newkirk reminded her that even back then, she knew she could do it.

“It was just so sweet,” said Newkirk. “Because we knew, in that moment she needed a little bit more support and got there and is doing big things now.” Which is exactly what Newkirk envisioned when she left the corporate world and returned to school.

Newkirk’s a Xavier graduate. She took a tour of colleges in Ohio, and “Xavier just felt like home.”

When she graduated, Newkirk earned her CPA license and started working at Deloitte, a big four public accounting firm. She spent a couple of years there before moving to Barnes Dennig, a regional firm, where the thought of teaching became more real in her mind.

Newkirk knew she needed a master’s degree to teach at an accredited university like Xavier. So she went back to school and earned her master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Cincinnati.

Newkirk had settled into a new job as the Director of Tax with Gorilla Glue, a local family-owned company, and while there, Xavier reached out to her about an adjunct teaching position.

“I took on that adjunct role and loved it,” Newkirk said. “Then once they had a full-time position open up the following year, I can’t believe I did it, but I quit my job – Gorilla Glue was fantastically supportive – but I’ve been at Xavier ever since.”

Accountancy professor Kaitlin Newkirk writes a mathematical equation on a whiteboard in a classroom

Since joining Xavier full-time in 2018, she’s now a tenure-track member of the faculty and her courses include Introductory Financial Accounting, Introduction to Taxation, and Flow-Through Entity Taxation, a master’s program that’s one of Newkirk’s areas of expertise.

Newkirk’s teaching approach folds a number of different ideas together – her own experience as a Xavier student, and her real-world business experience, both of which she brings into the classroom. From setting up interviews for her students with CPAs or visiting local tax advising firms, Newkirk’s students have access to a number of real business experiences that help shape their education.

Newkirk’s targeted teaching approach incorporates many experiential learning opportunities, and the most notable example involves the popular board game Monopoly.

In her Intro to Financial Accounting class, as they’re learning about business transactions, they’ll spend a day playing Monopoly.

Accountancy professor Kaitlin Newkirk leads a classroom discussion

“These are all different business majors, so Accounting might not be their major, but they’ll play and they’ll record those business transactions,” said Newkirk. “And then they use that to ultimately create financial statements for their Monopoly business.

“We look at how their company did and their gameplay. I try really hard to take those tough, maybe less interesting concepts and bring it home to the students so that they want to be there and they want to engage with it.”

It’s a way for Newkirk’s students to dive into business principles in a fun, engaging way that brings a sense of camaraderie to the classroom.

“I came out of the business world and I look at things a little bit differently,” said Newkirk. “And the fact that I grew up with Xavier too kind of really instilled a lot of those things. I love it. I truly care about all of my students. It almost feels surreal because it’s such a great job.”

Newkirk’s also involved with the Ohio Society of CPAs Women’s Initiative Committee. She’s part of the main committee in Columbus and co-chairs the regional committee in Cincinnati as a way to advocate for women in business and leadership.

From her time as a student at Xavier to returning as a professor, Newkirk’s experience with the university has shaped what she loves about it.

“So many things,” she said. “The campus is beautiful and the people are just incredible. The students are kind and hardworking and really want to be here.

“We have a Center for Teaching Excellence here at Xavier, which is focused on supporting us as faculty members to continue to improve our teaching.” Whether it’s a conference Newkirk wants to attend or the research she’s working on, she always feels supported by the university.

“I’m not your typical Ph.D., right? My research is more practitioner-oriented to CPAs so you see it showing up in Journal of Accountancy or Tax Adviser and they support the impact that that has on the profession. It’s very focused on teaching, ethics, and it’s very focused on good people. Really being men and women for others. It is truly lived here.”

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