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Accounting professor receives New Mexico State's highest faculty award

Sherry K. Mills, associate professor of accounting at New Mexico State University, has been selected to receive the university's highest faculty award, the Westhafer Award for Excellence in Teaching.



Sherry K. Mills, associate professor of accounting at New Mexico State University, has been selected to receive the university's highest faculty award, the Westhafer Award for Excellence in Teaching. (New Mexico State University photo by Darren Phillips)


Mills will be presented the award at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, at a ceremony in the Conroy Honors Center Commons Area. A reception will precede the ceremony at 3:30 p.m.

Mills, who also was named the 2002 New Mexico Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, believes accounting is the language of business. Throughout her teaching career at New Mexico State, the Lubbock, Texas, native has played a major role in taking the accounting department to new heights.

She is the co-creator of a project that involves the use of LEGO construction materials to help students learn about production processes and accounting concepts as they build vehicle prototypes. The project has garnered six awards since 1993.

She also helped to create a six-hour junior-level business course, which is team-taught by three professors from different business disciplines. Students learn about marketing, operations management and management accounting through lectures and labs designed to prepare teams of students to complete an integrated business plan. Mills said she has found listening to students and colleagues paramount to designing and improving business and accounting curriculum.

"Frequent collaboration with colleagues and student feedback has helped me to refine the courses I teach," she said.

Throughout her 14-year teaching career at New Mexico State, her teaching philosophy has entailed enthusiasm, creativity and open-mindedness.

"If you are not enthusiastic about what you do, it's hard to catch the students' interests," Mills said. "You have to be creative and look for new ways to stimulate students' learning. You have to be open to improvement."

The Westhafer Award is named for Robert L. Westhafer, a New Mexico State professor of mathematics who died in 1957. The award, which includes a $3,000 cash prize, has been presented each year since 1958. It is presented in alternate years for excellence in teaching and excellence in research and creative activity.