Faculty Retirements

By Dr. Jeffry Babb

In the cycles of academic life, we become accustomed to seeing students come and go on a regular basis as we engage in the business of guiding and nurturing student development in their education. Along the way, we collaborate with our colleagues, year in and out, in the fundamental endeavor of providing the educational foundation and environment that is our mission. We come to know and rely on these colleagues a partners in the journey – we share the highs and lows and plan for the future together. There is comfort in this rhythm and, to a degree, this stability is among the necessary components of developing the academic “well” to draw from.

However, there comes a day when our journey together runs its course and we say goodbye. When our colleagues retire, it is a bittersweet moment. Our support structure and shared foundation is now disrupted and a senior cornerstone of a program or department is now going away. Yet, we also celebrate that our colleagues are moving to a new and potentially exciting phase of their own journey having put in a just contribution to what is often a significant portion of their life’s work. In all cases, we reflect on and evaluate our colleagues’ unique contributions, personalities, and qualities that are always irreplaceable. Thus, we now say goodbye to four colleagues, all in Accounting, as they progress towards retirement and the next steps in their own journey. Please help in wishing Drs. Sharon Burnett, Kayrn Friske, Darlene Pulliam, and Ms Alice Upshaw well in their future endeavors, they will be missed.

Dr. Sharon Burnett

Dr. Sharon Burnett

Dr. Sharon Burnett, the Edwards Professor of Accounting, is retiring from the AEF department at the Engler College of Business at the end of the spring 2021 semester. Sharon received her undergraduate and MBA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and her Ph.D. in Accounting from Oklahoma State Universality.  She began her academic career at Wayland Baptist University, and from there to the Engler College of Business, where she was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.  In 2007, Dr. Burnett left WT to teach at Texas A & M Commerce and Oklahoma State University.  Dr. Burnett returned to WT six years later whereupon she was then promoted to professor in 2017.

Dr. Burnett has taught ten distinct accounting courses at WT. She is a Certified Public Accountant in Texas and Arkansas. Dr. Burnett has been honored twice with the Teaching Excellence Award in 2005 and 2016. Former students noted that she “is deeply concerned that students are capturing challenging concepts.” Her most remarkable scholarly achievement is that one among her published academic work had reached 100 citations on ResearchGate.

Dr. Burnett will leave a lasting impression and legacy on Engler Business College. We wish her well on her future journeys and adventures.

Dr. Karyn Friske

Dr. Karyn Friske

Dr. Karyn Friske, the Schaeffer Professor of Business Ethics, is retiring from the AEF department at the Engler College of Business at the end of the spring 2021 semester. Dr. Friske received her BBA and MBA from the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University at College Station. Having firmly established a career in accounting at firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and KMPG, she returned to Texas A&M to complete a Ph.D. in Accounting. In 1994, Karyn accepted a faculty position as Assistant Professor of Accounting at New Mexico State University. In 1996, she joined the Engler College of Business as an Associate Professor of Accounting and was subsequently promoted to Professor. Dr. Friske is a Texas licensed Certified Public Accountant whose career has focused on taxation, auditing, and gasoline and oil accounting. She has published widely in these areas with a particular emphasis in the pedagogy thereof.

Dr. Friske has received numerous awards and recognition for her exemplary teaching and scholarship. To wit, Dr. Friske taught popular courses for many years on accounting theory and Petroleum Accounting.

Dr. Friske’s closest colleagues and coworkers think highly and fondly of Dr. Friske: “Karyn is sweet, generous and always polite.” It is difficult to express my personal admiration of Karyn’s contributions and qualities into words. However, there are four characteristics stand out: integrity, devotion, attention to detail and humor.

We will miss Dr. Friske’s insight and guidance on complex issues, but most of all, her infectious laughter and warm collegiality. 

Ms. Alice Upshaw

Ms. Alice Upshaw

Ms. Upshaw retired early last in fall 2020 from the AEF department at the Engler College of Business. Ms. Upshaw received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Professional Accounting from West Texas A&M University. Ms. Upshaw joined the Department of Accounting, Economics, and Finance as an accounting instructor in 2007. Prior to joining WT, Ms. Upshaw worked in public accounting. She has earned a number of professional accolades and certifications: Certified Public Accountant (CPA),  Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Institute of Management Accountants.

Alice reflects that her time as faculty at WT has been very gratifying and rewarding. She recalls that she did not so much find a job at WT, but rather the job found her.  Ms. Upshaw shares that her decision to join the faculty university is a cherished experience that rivals, but does not surpass, her decision to accept John’s proposal of marriage in 1986.  That said, Ms. Upshaw also relishes the adventure and opportunities that await her after her decision to retire in August 2020.

Ms. Upshaw taught Principles of Managerial Accounting, Intermediate Accounting II, Cost Accounting, and Government & Not-for-Profit Accounting. Alice has also published in Practical Tax Strategies and Oil, Gas, & Energy Quarterly, and co-authored several invited articles for the Journal of Accountancy.  Alice was a highly successful teacher with a deep concern for the development and education of her students. She reports to be thoroughly enjoying retirement where she enjoys the view from her home on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon with her husband, John.

Dr. Darlene Pulliam

Dr. Darlene Pulliam

Dr. Darlene Pulliam, Regents Professor and McCray Professor of Business, retires at the end of the spring 2021 semester from the AEF department at the Engler College of Business. Dr. Pulliam leaves a legacy of high accomplishment in intellectual contributions, extensive professional service, and excellence in the classroom.  Dr. Pulliam received her Bachelor’s and MBA degree from Eastern New Mexico and her Ph.D.  In Accounting from the University of North Texas.

Dr. Pulliam spent five years at a public accounting firm that we now know as KMPG. In 1987, she joined the faculty at the University of Tulsa. When Dr. Pulliam joined the faculty at WTAMU in 1989, she took over the mantle from her father in the AEF department. During her tenure at WTAMU, she was the Director of the Master of Public Accounting program and faculty adviser for the Mortar Board.

Former students recall “her mentorship and help in finding key summer internships,” others valued “her ability to apply and relate academic concepts to the real business world,” and “her ability to create a great learning environment, both in and outside of class.”

By extending her interaction with students beyond the classroom, Darlene has indelibly established her legacy as a valuable adviser to students, in a variety of capacities. Her oversight of the MPA program included student advising, class scheduling, and curriculum development. More importantly, Dr. Pulliam spent many hours counseling students about their accounting career aspirations and otherwise positively shaped their futures. I have little doubt that Darlene’s impact on our students is beyond measure and will be simply irreplaceable.

Dr. Pulliam retires as a distinguished scholar and educator who cared deeply for her students. She remains a prolific researcher who has published numerous articles and provided leadership and guidance to her colleagues as a consistent co-author. When Dr, Abdullat asked Dr. Pulliam to reflect on her time at WTAMU and the impact of her time with us, the response was typical and exemplifies everything about Darlene, the accountant.

Her note to him said:

24 years X 20 MPA graduates a year = 480 accountants – mostly in Amarillo or Canyon.

This is truly a significant impact that we can all aspire to.  We express our sincere and heartfelt congratulations to Darlene on her retirement and extend profound gratitude for her many years of service and dedication to the school.