After 33 years at Lafayette, Rose Marie Bukics still loves coming to work each day, and it shows. The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) honored her with its Outstanding Educator Award at the statewide Annual Accounting Educators’ Conference in Hershey, Pa., this July.
Bukics has a reputation on College Hill as a professor with high expectations who demands excellence of the students who step in her classroom. She leads them outside their comfort zones so they can see the possibilities beyond their college years. Bukics practices what she teaches. She tries to add something new to each of her courses every semester, and every five years, she throws out her curriculum and creates a new one. Doing that ensures that she evolves as a professor just as her students evolve.
“As an educator, I want to touch a life in a way that matters in the long run,” says Bukics, Jones Professor of Economics. “This does not teach them discipline-specific information, but rather educates them how to learn for life and adapt to the world as the world changes.”
But Bukics doesn’t just saddle her students with high expectations and leave them to figure it out. She mentors them every step of the way, helping them figure out who they are and where they want to go. She often receives letters from past and present students telling her how much her commitment in and out of the classroom meant to them.
“I have pride in my students; they are talented, inquisitive, creative, and intelligent, and I want the world to see what they can accomplish,” she says. “I know how significant the impact can be when a faculty member just takes time to listen. Sometimes it makes all the difference in the world to that particular student and they never forget it.”
Chris Vecchio ’11, a currency analyst for DailyFX, the research arm of Forex Capital Markets, LLC, the world’s largest foreign exchange brokerage, credits Bukics with helping him develop the confidence and perseverance to make it on Wall Street.
“Professor Bukics was one of the hardest professors I had, but her attitude that the only laurel you can rest on is hard work really has stuck with me,” he says. “The class I took with her wasn’t one of my stronger performances, but through the struggles, I learned how to handle myself in tough situations and how to overcome.”
Perhaps Bukics’ strong commitment to helping students explore the many career opportunities that await them comes from the limited options she was presented with as an undergraduate. She works with students to take stock of their abilities, skills, and interests, and then helps them strategize about the best job or firm that will help them reach their career goals.
“When I was an undergraduate, there was one prescribed career path and that’s all you heard about and if you chose something different, there was something wrong with you,” she explains. “I want my students to recognize the full range of options out there.”
Because Bukics actively maintains the professional relationships she formed while working in accounting, auditing, and financial services before becoming a professor, she’s able to help her students make valuable connections as they transition from Lafayette to a career. In fact, she calls the College’s annual finance night in New York City a “homecoming,” where she not only learns what former students are up to but helps her current students tap into the vast alumni network in the financial arena.
In addition, Bukics is an active PICPA member, serving as the education column coordinator. She chaired the editorial board for two years, and was co-coordinator for two other columns. She still thinks of herself through the lens of the profession she chose—a licensed certified public accountant. While many mistake accounting as a static field, she says, it’s always changing and she needs to keep up with those changes to remain effective in the classroom.
Bukics also shares her classroom techniques with colleagues. Her book Reading, Writing, and Thriving: How to Make The Wall Street Journal a Key Part of Your Business Curriculum was honored by the American Educational Publishers Association in 2010. It’s written by a professor for professors, offering insights on integrating content from the journal in introductory and upper-level economics and finance courses. At a recent conference, a Temple University professor approached Bukics to compliment the book and discuss how she has used it in her own courses.