April 14, 2011

Karnes earns non-tenure track teaching award

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Darla K. Karnes, senior lecturer in the School of Accountancy, part of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Business, is the Outstanding Non-Tenure Track Teacher for 2011.

The University will honor Karnes and other 2011 Excellence Through Commitment award winners during a reception hosted by Chancellor Rita Cheng in Morris Library at 5:30 pm. on April 19. Karnes will receive a certificate and use of a designated parking space for the next year.

“She has always done an exceptional job in any course she teaches,” said J. Dennis Cradit, dean of the College of Business, in a letter recommending Karnes for the award. He praised her for extensive preparations and effort, including creating a study guide, developing a new course, helping coordinate the annual Accounting Challenge and serving in a number of other capacities.

He said she is one of the “most well-liked and sought after instructors each semester.”

Karnes, of Carbondale, is the first from her family to attend college. She said her teaching philosophy emphasizes individualized attention to, contact with and care for her students while helping them discover that accounting is interesting. She teaches an average of about 550 students each year and about 98 percent of them have no prior experience in an accounting class. She works to know each student by name and uses creative lectures, classroom conversations and technology to engage them while also expressing clearly to them her expectations. She has an open door policy with current and past students and consistently receives high marks on teaching evaluations.

Eden Thorne, director of development for the SIUC College of Engineering and self-proclaimed “non-traditional student” in one of Karnes’ fall 2010 accounting classes, praised Karnes for her accounting knowledge and teaching skills as well as her personal interest in the students and their success.

“Her knowledge of accounting principles and methods is extremely impressive. In addition, and more importantly in many ways, I have seen her unbridled compassion for her students and their success as a scholar and a person,” Thorne wrote.

Ashley Gibson, a graduate research assistant in the accounting school, credits the success she’s had in acquiring an international scholarship and to already have a job waiting upon graduation to the impact Karnes has had on her. She said Karnes was even instrumental in her decision to become an accounting major.

“Darla looks deep into her students and finds their true potential and motivates students to succeed beyond their personal expectations. She genuinely cares about her students,” Gibson wrote.

Kristina A. Therriault, assistant athletic director-student services at SIUC, said of Karnes, “Both in the lecture hall and in person, Darla is a dynamic communicator who possesses the gift of being able to make complex subjects understandable. She is a strong advocate for SIU students, helping them to advance both personally and professionally.”

Marcus D. Odom, director of the School of Accountancy and Deloitte and Touche Faculty Fellow, said students seek out Karnes’ classes. He told of a train ride from Chicago to Carbondale a couple of years ago where he met an alumna who told him her daughter and son both praised Karnes as their favorite SIUC professor and said she “made accounting easy for them to understand.” Odom said he’s heard similar stories before and he praised Karnes for her passion for teaching and her desire to help her students excel.

A native of southern Indiana, Karnes earned her bachelor’s degree in health care management at SIUC in 1986 while also working full-time at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale as a charge respiratory therapist. She later returned to SIUC, taking courses that enabled her to become a certified public accountant in 1998 and then earned her master’s in accountancy in 2000 at SIUC.

She served as a graduate assistant in the accounting school 1999-2000 and has been a lecturer since 2000. She has served in a number of committee positions and is involved in community service, research and publishing student workbooks and in professional journals.