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Conducting business on her terms

After three and one half years teaching English and Spanish in Oakes, N.D., Karen Walz, assistant professor of accounting and finance, learned one thing: she did not want to teach 7th grade English the rest of her life.

"Business was the area for women to go into at the time," Walz said reflecting on her career switch. "I took a night class in accounting and really enjoyed it, so I decided to pursue a degree in accounting."

She quit her job that spring and moved to Grand Forks, where she completed a Master of Science in Accounting from the University of North Dakota. She received her CPA certificate that same year.

After graduation, Walz had offers in public and private accounting, but Robert Sando, her older brother who taught at Minot State, talked her into applying for an open position in the Division of Business. So she "caved into family pressures," applied and got the job. As fate would have it, her new career brought her back to the classroom, where she remains today.

"Teaching at the college level was tough at first. It can be intimidating facing classes of 60+ students, some of whom are older than you," Walz said. "But once I got my feet wet, I realized teaching at MSU was so much fun."

As she married and raised her family, Walz realized she was exactly where she needed to be.

The College of Business has evolved in the 32 years since Walz arrived. Originally, MSU offered a business administration major with marketing, management and accounting concentrations. In the early 80s, Walz and colleagues approached the State Board of Higher Education with MSU's proposal for an accounting major. Walz was the first chair of the Department of Accounting, serving from 1985-1990. Over the years, she served on numerous university committees, participated on search committees for departmental/university hiring, and currently serves on the CoB Scholarship Committee, the MSU Athletic Advisory Council, and the Board of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at MSU. She served for 9 years as the MSU Faculty Athletic Representative, certifying eligibility of its NAIA student athletes. Walz, an avid Beaver fan, can often be found with her husband in the stands at any given MSU athletic event.

To stay current in her field, Walz attends CPA society-sponsored conferences and pursues self-studies focusing on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). She has been a member of the ND Society of CPAs for over 30 years.

"Whenever I attend CPA meetings or conventions, I see so many former students," she said. "It gives me a sense of pride to see them progress in their careers and leadership roles."

Also active in the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of key women educators with 100,000 members in 17 countries, Walz served as a state or chapter officer for the last two decades, concluding her term as N.D. state president in 2011.

"I have traveled to international DKG conventions all over the U.S. and Canada," Walz commented. "I've had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends."