Jonathan Nash knew for years that he wanted to be a professor someday. But with accounting as his field of study and practice, he never expected he’d be popular among his students. And he certainly didn't expect to receive Paul’s Excellence in Teaching Award for tenure-track faculty after less than three years at the college as an assistant professor of accounting.
“I was very surprised because accounting is often perceived as this horrible, not fun thing,” Nash joked. “I was also very honored. There are a lot of quality faculty in my department, and there are a lot of quality faculty at Paul College; the award is meaningful because that’s the reference point for excellence in teaching.”
When Nash received his doctorate, Paul College was the first and last place he interviewed to start his teaching career. After interviewing in fall 2015, he decided the search was over. He liked the people here and knew from life experience how exceptional it is to find such a good fit so quickly.
Once Nash got into the classroom, his dedication to using real world skills and examples in the coursework, and his respectful, caring nature led to him being awarded some of the highest student evaluations in the college. Students described him as “the best professor in Paul,” “enthusiastic and engaging,” and “a breath of fresh air.” Nash, somehow, made learning about auditing fun.
“When a professor is able to engage the students, hold their attention and challenge them to actually visualize their future – that professor has crossed the line from a great professor to an exceptional professor,” Bradley Kilbreth ‘19 said. “Dr. Nash is exceptional.”
Nash works hard to help students recognize how their efforts map to future success, aligning the work they do in class with work done in practice. He is constantly emailing practitioners to obtain materials and insights. He believes this is how he gets buy-in from his students: by demonstrating that future employers value the skills he’s teaching and providing the students an opportunity to apply those skills in a manner consistent with practice.
The ultimate payoff for Nash comes when he sees his students head out into the world and use what they’ve learned as professionals.
"He is a tremendous instructor, loved by his students, who teaches some of the most critical courses in our accounting programs.”
“What I take pride in is when someone comes back and says, ‘Hey, we do this exact thing at Ernst & Young that you did in the classroom.’ Or ‘I got a 90 on my audit exam!’” he said. “Those are the moments that are most fulfilling.”
This pride also extends to graduate students. When the M.S. accounting program was seeking a faculty member to teach accounting information systems, Nash stepped in and volunteered. Unsatisfied in his ability to teach the latest technology after a couple years out of practice, he spent the summer studying for the certified information systems auditor exam and passed it in January.
Putting in that extra effort is completely in character for Nash, who strives for continuous improvement as an instructor. Since joining UNH, he has completed the writing intensive instructor training, fundamentals of online learning training, technology enhanced classrooms training, and the writing intensive faculty retreat twice (once as a student and once as a panel discussant). He also attended the American Accounting Association’s intensive data and analytics workshop.
“Despite his success in the classroom, Jon always strives for improvement,” Stephen Ciccone, accounting and finance chair and associate professor of finance, said. “His ability to seek out and incorporate feedback into his courses is amazing. He is a tremendous instructor, loved by his students, who teaches some of the most critical courses in our accounting programs.”
Each year, Paul College recognizes faculty who motivate, challenge and inspire students to succeed both in and out of the classroom through awards for teaching, research and overall excellence. Winners are selected from a pool of nominees put forward through letters of recommendation from both their peers and their students.
“I primarily teach seniors and graduate students. I’m lucky because by the time the students enroll in my courses, my colleagues have given them a strong knowledge base and made sure they have the proper expectations and work ethic. I just take it from there,” Nash said. “Winning this award has really been a group effort, and a career highlight.”
And then, adds with a smile, “I hope it’s not all downhill from here!”