I Am UAA: Lynn Koshiyama

September 26, 2012

I AM UAA: Lynn KoshiyamaProfessor of Accounting
Hometown: Keaau, Hawaii
Fun fact: Is a student of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement

When Lynn Koshiyama was in the second grade, she made the statement, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I don’t want to be a nurse or a teacher.” As fate would have it, she ended up being a teacher.

Although Lynn holds more titles than just teacher—she’s currently a professor of accounting, interim associate dean for UAA’s College of Business and Public Policy (CBPP) and former director of the Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence (CAFE).

Born and raised in Hawaii, where her grandparents originally emigrated to from Japan, she may not have known what she wanted to be, but knew what the expectations were, “I’m Sansei or third generation. The first and second generations worked very hard to give a better life for their families. It’s always been understood that our generation—despite the fact that my parents didn’t complete high school—we’d all get a college education.”

With that in mind, Lynn went to the library one day to check out some university catalogs. And lo and behold, the first catalog was for the University of Alaska. ‘How cool,’ was Lynn’s first thought. Plus, there was no out-of-state tuition at that time between Alaska and Hawaii.

So she set off for UAF (UAA didn’t have any student housing yet) after high school, and graduated in 1975 with a bachelor’s of business administration in accounting, just as the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was being built.

“I never thought I would stay,” Lynn said, but the pipeline created a lot of job opportunities, so She went to work in Anchorage as an auditor with a public accounting firm after graduating and after a few years, accepted a position as a controller for a mining and geological consulting firm. When there was an opening for a teaching position at Anchorage Community College came up, somebody asked her if she’d be interested in applying.

“I never thought that’d be in my career path, but it sounded interesting so I applied,” Lynn said. It’s a good thing she didn’t stand by her second-grade remark since teaching turned out to be a perfect fit.

“I love accounting,” Lynn said. “Accounting is fun for me. The teaching part of it is actually even more fun because it allows me to show people how accounting is relevant to their everyday lives.”

When asked what her favorite part about working at UAA is, she immediately answers, “The students. They invigorate me.”

Although her work in CAFE focused directly on faculty development, the ultimate goal was always to improve the learning experience. “If you encourage faculty to think of new ways to present material, all it does is increase student learning,” Lynn said.

Although there’s always been some form of faculty development on campus, CAFE, since its creation in 1999, has worked to promote excellence by supporting faculty through various workshops, forums, intensives and discussion groups.

Lynn, in turn, has noticed a positive change in Anchorage’s view of its hometown university over the years. Not only are more local employers looking for UAA graduates to help grow their businesses, more and more local high school students see it as a viable college option.

She started her new role as interim associate dean for CBPP earlier this month. It’s more administrative than any position she’s had so far, but there’s no doubt she’ll continue to positively impact all those incoming students.

It’s amazing what great opportunities might be right in your own backyard. Just ask “accidental” Alaskan and teacher Lynn.

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