Professor Tracey Riley chose Suffolk University for her first tenure-track position because of its diversity. “Both the students and the faculty come from all over the world,” said Riley, Assistant Professor of Accounting. “I felt that I would gain as much knowledge from the students as they would from me.”
Riley, who is finishing her PhD work in accounting, comes to Suffolk with a mix of professional and academic experience. She spent nine years as the manager of a graphics production department for a worldwide exhibit design/build company, has both an MBA and a certificate of graduate studies in accounting, and has taught at several colleges in the New England area.
"After my third child was born, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom and worked toward my MBA at night, one course at a time,” said Riley, whose children are now 14, 16, and 20. “I fell in love with academia and realized I wanted to spend my life learning and teaching, so I decided to earn a PhD and become a professor.”
Although Riley is focused on accounting at Suffolk, she said her undergraduate degree in Psychology informs her current research in behavioral accounting.
Riley has taken her interest in the human element in business to inform her dissertation, which explores a company’s accounting narrative. “A company’s President’s Letter, MD & A, or earnings press release may contain the same financial data, but the way the information is discussed in the accompanying narrative may sway an investor’s, decision about the value of the investment,” she said.
Her research also explores the impact of interpersonal relations between an auditor and a client, and their ability to persuade and affect an auditor’s judgment. She and her colleagues have discovered that an auditor’s relationship to a client impacts their judgment and documentation when client competence is low, but not when it’s high.
Students taking Riley’s class in Intermediate Accounting I may feel the numbers are very detached from real-world situations, Riley said, but introducing the emotional factors that can have major impacts on a company’s success connect students to real-world situations accountants face on a daily basis.