Accounting Professor Cathy Staples
-story by Lena Wallace '14
Randolph-Macon College Accounting Professor
Cathy Staples, who joined the faculty in 1995, looks forward to conducting research
during her 2014 sabbatical. Staples will research other college-level accounting
programs across Virginia and is specifically interested in what other institutions
do regarding requirements, faculty credentials and degrees.
“I want to eventually expand out into other states but I thought I would start small,”
says Staples. “Once I’ve accumulated this information, I anticipate being able to
use it to strengthen Randolph-Macon’s accounting program so our students have the
absolute best possible experience.”
Staples also teaches Intermediate Accounting, Advanced Accounting and Information
Systems. She says most students have no idea what they will be studying when they
take their first accounting course.
“Some have taken accounting in high school and know something about what the course
entails, but many really don’t know anything about accounting at the very beginning,”
says Staples. “I have to introduce them to some very foreign concepts, in a way
that they can understand. By the time we are done with the first accounting course,
I can see some glimmer of understanding—and in many cases, excitement.” One of her
course projects has her students look at the financial statements of companies they
know so that students can apply their education to the real world.
“By the time we are done with the second accounting course, students feel much more
comfortable with the material,” she says. “They understand that even if they never
work in accounting, this is still information they will be able to use in the future—either
at their jobs or when making personal investment decisions.”
Jonathan Kogel ’14 is an accounting and business/economics major
with minors in computer science and
ethics. He has taken several of Staples’ courses.
“The difficulty of the concepts in Principles of Accounting and Intermediate Accounting
is well-known within the accounting world, and I fretted before taking those courses,”
says Kogel. “Professor Staples has an uncanny knack at sensing students’ concerns,
and through both courses, she helped and guided us.” Kogel says Staples is anything
but a “typical” accounting professor.
“She wears no pocket protector, and she’s energetic, engaging, well-grounded, and
understanding,” he says. “Accounting is an esoteric field that a lot of students
fear, but she has a brilliant way of calming students, simplifying complex concepts,
and producing knowledgeable accounting students who have gained an appreciation
for the ‘language of business.’ Professor Staples is a master of her craft, and
the quintessence of a great educator.”
Victoria Puryear ’14 is an
economics/business major and mathematics
minor who has taken Accounting I and Accounting II with Staples.
“Accounting demands focus and comprehension, and a commitment to projects,” says
Puryear. “Professor Staples understands that some students struggle, and, instead
of just throwing them into the deep end, she ensures that all students understand
the material before she moves on. Her compassion, dedication, and love for accounting
make her a unique professor and an incredible asset to Randolph-Macon College.”
Outside the Classroom
Staples serves on R-MC’s Benefits Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and Summer
Session Advising Council. In her free time, she enjoys reading mystery books and
cheering on her children, who play travel basketball.
Staples earned her B.B.A. at the College of William and Mary and her Ph.D. from
the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the recipient of the
2013 United Methodist Church Exemplary Teaching Award, which was presented
during Honors Convocation at R-MC.