By Ritamarie C. Tauer, CPA, MACCT Associate Provost, Academic Operations.
As I anticipate my retirement, I find myself asking, “Did I impact lives while at HBU?” I certainly pray I have.
Many of our alumni, and I count myself among them, are in promising careers and I believe their HBU education has provided them with the courage and wisdom to impact their world for God and good.
I feel very fortunate to have had many careers here at HBU and each, in its own way, has allowed me the ability to continue to grow in my career and in my faith. Houston Baptist University is a very special place, for so many reasons. My home for most of my time at HBU was the College of Business and Economics, now the Archie W. Dunham College of Business. In 1983, I enrolled in the Master of Accountancy Program; a program that totally changed my career trajectory. I had an undergraduate degree in Home Economics – Early Childhood Education and had always planned on a related career. I made certain assumptions about the HBU education I was about to receive with absolutely no basis, however, my assumptions proved true. I believe God’s hand was definitely guiding me and I would learn the whys later. While in my program
I encountered the very best, most caring faculty I had known since my elementary education. My success in the program was important to my faculty and that success meant I would become an ethical, knowledgeable accountant who was non-wavering in my faith. I learned accounting was a good deal more than debits and credits and a good deal more than solely serving the shareholder. HBU faculty were also instrumental in my placement in a top public accounting firm after graduation as well as preparing me to sit for the CPA exam. My passing the exam was a tribute to my faculty (and some tutoring from my Dad). It should be noted when I graduated with my Master of Accountancy in 1985, my graduation brought the total number of HBU graduates to 3,860. The May 2022 graduation brought the total number of graduates to 24,570. We are having an impact, one student at a time.
I believe each of us has a responsibility to take precious care of our faith, our family and our mind, and in that order. I was taught early in life that one day, I would be held accountable for the care I took of each of the three.
After the birth of my second son, I decided the pace of public accounting was too intrusive on my family, and I enjoyed the wonderful role of a stay-at-home mom. After just one year, HBU stepped back into my life. I was invited to teach Intermediate Accounting; the one course that gave me the most grief in my own degree plan. Although terrified at the thought of walking into a classroom, I was honored to be invited and knew I had already witnessed what the responsibilities of an HBU faculty included. I hoped I would be able to live up to what I had enjoyed first-hand. The College of Business and Economics was supportive of my desire to be at home with my children while affording me the opportunity to have a career in academia. My schedule was flexible and my children and husband enjoyed many activities on the HBU campus over the years. Still today, HBU is a huge advocate of reaching out to her alumni to teach, mentor and consult – who better to continue the legacy!
I remained a faculty member until June 2014 and during that time, I was honored to assume various additional responsibilities, which provided me exposure to graduate students, and afforded me leadership opportunities. I served as director of MBA Programs, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and interim dean of the College of Business and Economics; those were some of my most memorable experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed the responsibility, and the relationships I built with the College faculty have become lifelong friendships. HBU is blessed with many faculty and staff who have 25-plus years of service; that speaks volumes for their love of their career and of HBU. In the spring of 2018, I had the privilege of seeing my son, Charley, teach his first course at HBU in the College of Business as an adjunct faculty member, what a special treat.
I have been fortunate to serve in positions where I have had the opportunity to influence the lives of students as well as faculty, and I pray I have had a positive influence on their lives and their faith.
In 2009, I had the privilege of working with our HBU Athletics leadership to prepare the certification report for NCAA Division I membership. This was my first introduction to compliance and it served as another example of HBU always seeking what is best for our students. The return to NCAA Division I status has brought HBU athletics the recognition and exposure it so deserves.
For a brief interlude beginning June 2008, for 18 months, I had the special treat of launching and serving as the dean of the brand new College of Continuing Studies. This was genuinely a lot of fun. The first class offered was Dancing with OUR Stars and those in attendance included President and Mrs. Sloan, several Board of Trustees members, faculty, staff and HBU friends. The HBU family is always supportive of everything “HBU.” I began serving in my current role as Associate Provost for Academic Operations in June 2010. Prominent in these duties is serving as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Accreditation Liaison. As such, I have the pleasure of working across the campus, including both academic and administrative departments to ensure compliance with the Principles of Accreditation. Most recently, this December, HBU was reaffirmed for another 10 years allowing us to impact yet more young lives with a faith-infused education.
As part of our annual assessment for SACSCOC, each year for the last twelve years, we assessed the progress of the University’s Vision as so beautifully articulated in The Ten Pillars Faith & Reason in a Great City. What a treat to see the University’s Vision come to life as we successfully accomplished goal after goal. We earned approval for NCAA Division I membership; launched the new College of Engineering (now the College of Science and Engineering) created The Honors College; launched the Pinky Pampell Online Division; successfully completed a $135.5 million dollar campaign; launched the creation of a new liberal arts core curriculum and created a Classics Department; constructed The Sadie & Doug Hodo Residence College; added 27 new graduate degrees and 26 new undergraduate degrees, including launching our first doctoral program; the Doctor of Education in Executive Educational Leadership allowing HBU to move to the next level and become a comprehensive university; to mention just a few. We have since added three additional doctorates to our portfolio of graduate studies and I am confident the deans have plans for more. Dr. Sloan and other preparing for the new Ten the University through 2030 University leaders are now Pillars Vision, which will carry and only the Good Lord knows what comes after that! I have been genuinely blessed to be able to be a part of HBU’s amazing growth over the last 35 years.