Accounting Division Chair Wins Distinguished Faculty Award

Rikard Kohler, Staff Writer

Tossing chocolate bars to the audience, accounting division chair Christine Kloezeman, 64, had one student crawling on the floor for Milky Way bars before delivering her Distinguished Faculty lecture on taxes Sept. 30.

“Accounting can be a very dry subject and you have to make it fun,” Kloezeman said.

Every year, faculty members nominate candidates for the Distinguished Faculty Award. Kloezeman was the first instructor in the accounting department to receive the plaque. Academic Senate President Andrew Young, who held the introduction before her lecture, explained that the award goes to faculty who have done exceptional work.

The Distinguished Faculty Lecture and Award began in 1987. Since then, faculty members in the English department have been selected five times, making them the department with the most awards.

“Maybe because it [the English department] is a bigger department, maybe people [within the department] turned in more nominations,” said the English division chair Monette Tiernan.

Tiernan believes that the Distinguished Faculty Lecture is a way for teachers to learn from each other and apply methods from the lecture into to their own lives and classrooms.

With 30 years at the college, Kloezeman was selected for her love of and dedication to the craft of teaching her students. She describes her relationship with students as a symbiotic one, as she learns from them just as much as they learn from her.

“When you stop learning from students, you might as well retire,” she said.

Kloezeman incorporates the same chocolate toss trick she used on her audience in the classroom, describing it as a way to keep her accounting classes interesting. She also provides her students with brownies while telling them quirky personal stories.

“Every so often, if they [the students] are good and I have talked about accounting and numbers, I go off on a different subject for about three minutes,” she said. “If they are really good, I tell them about the time I got hijacked to Cuba in 1972.”

To protest against the war atrocities in Vietnam, a student from the University of Utah hijacked the plane Kloezeman’s plane was on, taking it from Salt Lake City to Cuba. Kloezeman, only 21 at the time, frustrated and impatient to get to her fiancé, started yelling, “You are crazy!” at the hijacker. She thinks that the general consensus of the other passengers was “is he going to kill her?” However, she and the others were eventually let go in Cuba.

By telling stories like this, to mix up her accounting lectures and keep the students awake, Kloezeman believes that she helps her students learn and remember her lessons more, as opposed to just cramming them with facts and numbers.

Kloezeman is responsible for setting up the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program at the college 17 years ago. Participation in the VITA program lets students help low-income people with their taxes for free. In order to participate in VITA, students should enroll in the Accounting 155, 156 and 157 courses.

“We are here to help the people that are low income, that would have to pay $100 to have their taxes done,” she said.

The program allows accounting students to get hands-on experience while allowing them to provide tax assistance, which benefits not only the public but also the IRS because the student accountants have different ethnic backgrounds and speak more languages.

“The IRS loves us because we can translate a lot of things,” said Kloezeman referring to her students’ diverse language skills.

Although some have offered to pay Kloezeman and her students, accepting a fee or monetary award is prohibited in the VITA program.

During her lecture, Kloezeman offered the audience members, who scrambled to eat their chocolate bars and jot down points from her lecture, advice regarding how to save and make money. Kloezeman herself owns four houses that she has purchased over the last 40 years. She explained that following certain financial principles enables a return of investment. For example, she said it is better to never sell property but purchase whenever possible and keep good tenants to live in those properties. This, of course, is one person’s opinion.

She said that by holding fast to her principles, the return of her investments is at 7 percent annually. This means that the money she spent on the properties was regained in less than 15 years.

Kloezeman also gave the audience tips on how to minimize household taxes. For example, if a couple is planning to get married, Kloezeman recommends doing so before Dec. 31 because the couple can file their taxes for that year as a married couple, which saves them money.

She also warned about scams and people posing as IRS agents, to empty one’s bank accounts. Kloezeman explained that a real IRS agent would never ask about credit or debit numbers over the phone or threaten to call the police if someone failed to pay their taxes.

Although the lecture went on longer than scheduled and there was no time to take questions from the audience, Kloezeman encouraged students to ask her questions any time and help themselves to more free chocolate (without crawling on the floor).