When UAGC faculty member Brandy Havens was named a finalist for the 2024 IACBE Accounting Faculty of the Year Award, she traveled to Memphis to attend the award ceremony hosted by The International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), which has given specialized accreditation to the UAGC business programs. Each year, the award is bestowed upon one faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching accounting and a commitment to both the accounting profession and the IACBE.

Brandy knew her colleagues at the Forbes School of Business and Technology® had nominated her for the award, but when she arrived at the ceremony on Thursday, April 4, 2024, she discovered she wasn’t just a finalist; Brandy had been named the IACBE 2024 Accounting Faculty of the Year.

It was a surprise orchestrated by Dean Maja Zelihic, who believes Brandy, assistant professor of accounting at UAGC, was deserving of the honor.

In addition to her impressive academic and professional achievements, Dean Zelihic says Brandy has demonstrated exceptional leadership and initiative in various operational aspects. She designed both onboarding checklists and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for associate faculty members, collaborating closely with one of the UAGC assistant deans, even during holidays and weekends. Brandy also took it upon herself to train new employees, providing invaluable support to ensure their seamless integration into the team. She also is emcee at the Forbes School of Business and Technology® Thought Leader Summit, as well as for the Center for Women’s Leadership events, and others.

“Brandy is an expert in an accounting position but also such a go-getter that she always assists different departments and works on projects across the Forbes School of Business and Technology®,” says Dean Zelihic.

The plan went off without a hitch, and Brandy was more than overjoyed.

“As someone who has dedicated almost two decades to higher education, it was a tremendous honor to be recognized,” Brandy says. “If you can make a difference for somebody that’s really something.”

Brandy takes pride in her contributions to the accounting field, but she acknowledges she borrows her teaching style from a mentor who was one of her favorite professors as a student. She explains that he always made a point of making accounting concepts fun by bringing in real-world examples. For example, one day, they might have looked at the actual financial statement for GM, and on another day, he would share something equally tangible from his personal experiences outside the classroom. This approach made the process of learning much more relatable, and it’s a tactic Brandy says she uses to educate her students today.

UAGC Faculty member Brandy Havens

Left, Brandy Havens with her 2024 IACBE Faculty of the Year Award; Right, Brandy Havens with her family.

Getting to Know Brandy Havens

Recently, Brandy spoke with us about her journey to UAGC and what she loves most about her roles as a faculty member and accounting professional.

UAGC: Tell us a little bit about your background before you came to UAGC.
Brandy: “Right out of high school, it’s difficult to know what path you want to take. Like many of our UAGC students, I returned to college as a working adult. I earned both my bachelor’s degree and my Master of Business Administration (MBA) by taking night courses while working full time. Back when I was doing that, there was no such thing as online courses. Education unlocks a lot of doors, and being a first-generation college student, you can change the trajectory of generations to come. While working on my bachelor’s degree, I was able to obtain my very first accounting position. I started as an accounting clerk, and I was absolutely thrilled to be working in my field. Soon after completing my undergraduate degree, I shifted into Big 4 public accounting, completed my MBA, and obtained my CPA license. Eventually, I moved back into corporate accounting with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where I focused on financial reporting. I really enjoyed preparing and analyzing annual reports.”

UAGC: What made you want to be in education?
Brandy: “Teaching is something that I always wanted to do, but the timing and opportunities just hadn’t lined up. However, as I was completing my MBA taking night classes, a couple of my professors approached me and asked if I would be willing to come back and teach undergraduate night classes for them. I guess I had made an impression on them. So, once I completed my master’s degree, I started teaching night classes in accounting while working full time during the day. I was hooked immediately!”

UAGC: What do you like best about UAGC?
Brandy: “I have never worked with a group of people who are more truly committed to improving the lives of their students and career opportunities of their students than at UAGC. We love our students. They are all adult learners, working professionals, and we serve a lot of military students. I have a ton of respect for military personnel. As much as they sacrifice for us, it’s my privilege to be able to help them.”

UAGC: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Brandy: “My greatest accomplishment will always be the success of my students. Every student who is able to persevere through their challenges and earn their degree; every student who is able to provide a better life for themselves and their family because of their education. That is why we all do what we do.”

UAGC: What has been your greatest challenge?
Brandy: “I believe that some of my greatest career challenges are the same ones that my students face, and that’s probably why I feel such a strong connection to my students. While we all want to achieve certain things in our careers, it’s often difficult to find the right balance. For example, we are all juggling various obligations, including family, while also trying to pursue our own aspirations. We have these things that are pulling us in multiple directions. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a perfect balance, but I think at the end of the day, we are all seeking the most perfect balance for us based on our unique circumstances.”

UAGC: What goals do you still hope to achieve professionally and otherwise?
Brandy: “My goal will always be to wake up every day looking for a way to be better, looking for new and innovative ways to serve my students. If I ever stop feeling that way, I’ll know that it’s time to retire. But I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope that I continue to get excited looking for new ways to bring concepts to life that might otherwise be considered by some as a bit bland or boring.”

UAGC: What do you like to do outside of work?
Brandy: “My favorite thing to do outside of work is reading. I’m a total bookworm. I would probably read all day every day if I could. My favorites tend to be mysteries and thrillers. I read some nonfiction recently. I read Bill Gates’ book on climate change, and I read a lot of Steven King.”


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