As a high school student in south central China, Jiangxia (Renee) Liu, Ph.D., anticipated the opportunity to continue her education in the United States.
That dream came true, and as she wraps up her first year as an associate professor of accounting, she is eager to help students with similar ambitions further their studies here at Valpo.
“I always knew I wanted to study in the United States,” Professor Liu says. “And there are so many others in China and other countries who want to do the same thing.
“Provost Biermann has been very supportive of reaching out to universities in China to help broaden those students’ educations and broaden the University’s profile.”
She’s developed relationships with three schools in her home country and looks forward to adding more. Valpo continues to feel more like home since she joined the faculty in fall 2014.
“I love the College of Business work environment,” she says, “and the proximity of Valpo to Chicago is ideal for my lifestyle. Access to a major city makes life easier and richer, yet being far enough away from Chicago makes it a lot more peaceful.”
Professor Liu, an only child of a high school math teacher and factory worker in Luzhou, earned a bachelor’s degree at Chongqing University. Drawn by opportunities in the U.S. and with the support of her parents, she sought and obtained a full scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas.
There, she earned a master’s and Ph.D. before beginning a teaching career that took her to Western Carolina University and Gannon (Pa.) University, where she oversaw the accounting program before coming to Valpo.
Her background helps bolster the focus College of Business Dean James D. Brodzinski, Ph.D. has on preparing students for the global marketplace after graduation.
“We strive to prepare students to work with international colleagues in a global business society after graduation,” says Dean Brodzinski. “The addition of Renee to our faculty has broadened the scope of the expertise we can offer our students, and she is an exceptional professor.”
Professor Liu, a Certified Management Accountant, always knew she wanted to teach.
“My dad was a good high school teacher, and my granddad was a principal at an elementary school,” she says. “I believe teaching is a very respectful and impactful profession in any society, and from the time I began my undergraduate program, I already noticed my desire and passion to be a teacher.”
Her research includes CEO compensation and corporate governance, both of which became notable subjects in the wake of the 1990s’ dot-com bust and Enron scandal. The results of those and other scandals, Professor Liu says, helped raise the profile of accounting as a profession and emphasize the need for increased attention to potential ethical pitfalls.
“This made the job and role of an accounting professor important; to instill ethics in students,” she says. “As an educator, I put more effort into teaching ethics while I design my classes.
“Many people see accounting as boring. That makes me feel excited and challenges me to polish my teaching methods and approach to make my students see, feel, and learn accounting.”
Valpo’s Confucius Institute and its collaborations with international universities – along with the sense of family she feels in the College of Business – excites Professor Liu about possibilities for prospective students who share the same dedication that took her halfway around the globe to continue her studies.
“With my connection with Chinese universities, I will be able to continue to develop collaborations between them and Valpo,” she says. “Academic freedom here and the support provided by the administration make me feel I will make a strong impact here.”