Focus on Faculty

Jacqueline Hammersley

Jacqueline Hammersley (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Terry College of Business professor Jacqueline Hammersley educates students while also conducting research that has a direct effect on professional accounting practice.

Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?

I have a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a Master of Accounting Science degree and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

Currently, I teach in the Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program in the J.M. Tull School of Accounting, which is part of the Terry College of Business, and in our Ph.D. program. I also work with doctoral students on their research.

When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?

I came to Athens in the fall of 2003 to start my position as an assistant professor.

What are your favorite courses and why?

I love teaching my “Advanced Auditing” class because it focuses on the big, important issues that students will grapple with as they enter the auditing profession. We cover the areas of the audit that require a lot of judgment and for which there may be no single correct answer, but there are often a lot of bad answers—one example is complex estimates. In the class, we study how to apply judgment to these gray areas, what processes lead to better or worse judgments and decisions, and what communication strategies are most effective. The students are going to quickly find themselves making these judgments once they are in practice, and I hope my class can provide good guidance about how to think about the problems they will encounter.

I also love teaching the doctoral seminar because it starts a fun journey with the students that can last the entire time they are in residence here at UGA and beyond as they start their careers as academics. It’s great to watch them develop over such a long period of time from new students into scholars.

What are some highlights of your career at UGA?

In January 2017, two of my former doctoral students won awards at an academic conference. Emily Griffith (Ph.D. 2014) won the Outstanding Dissertation Award (I also received the Outstanding Dissertation Advisor Award). Emily is now on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Mike Ricci (Ph.D. 2017) won the Best Paper with a Ph.D. Student Award for a paper we co-authored; Mike is now on the faculty at the University of Florida. Working with doctoral students is the favorite part of my job, and it was really rewarding to see their success.

A few years ago the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which regulates auditors of public companies, invited me to give input on a new standard on auditing complex estimates. They asked me to summarize what the academic research shows affects the quality of auditor judgments on estimates. As a result of that presentation, the board modified another standard on using specialists, and the proposed estimates standard contains several provisions that cite the evidence from my talk. It was very gratifying to see academic research done by me and many others have a direct effect on professional practice. This is the reason I do research of course, but you don’t often get to see the impact so clearly during your career.

How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?

Jacqueline Hammersley says her ideal student “is curious and likes to think hard about the issues.” (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

After the economic crisis there has been a lot of concern about whether companies record the really complicated accounts in their financial statements appropriately— accounts like derivatives or complex estimates—so that investors have a good picture of what is going on inside the company. One factor (among many) that affects the quality of these numbers is how well the auditors do when they audit these accounts.

The auditors’ job is to collect evidence and make a judgment about whether the numbers the company recorded are reasonable or not. If the auditors determine that numbers are not reasonable, the companies have to revise the numbers before they report them to investors. I study factors that are aimed at improving the quality of the auditors’ judgments about these numbers. If the auditors do a better job identifying when their clients need to revise their numbers, investors are better off.

How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?

I study auditor judgment, so I am usually working on research projects related to understanding or improving auditor judgment on the hardest problems the profession faces. Grappling with these issues informs my teaching about topics I should consider covering in class, interesting cases to use, or projects to assign. There is a great synergy between my teaching and my research.

What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?

I hope students come away having learned some critical thinking skills.

Describe your ideal student.

My ideal student is curious and likes to think hard about the issues. This is the student in class who is likely to say, “But if that is true, wouldn’t that imply…” I love that student!

Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…

I love the Founders Memorial Garden; it’s just so peaceful.

Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…

We live in the Boulevard neighborhood and take advantage of everything downtown Athens and Boulevard have to offer—we walk all over to go to dinner, movies, the farmers market, book and record stores—we love it! I also recently started mountain biking with my husband. He’s an avid biker, but he’s very patient with me as I dodge the trees that seem to pop up on the trails out of nowhere!

Favorite book/movie (and why)?

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” because it appeals to all my idealistic sensibilities and reminds me that those with power need to look out for those without.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

After all my years as a professor, I was on the other side last year when my oldest stepdaughter started here as a freshman. We went through the application process and bit our nails, orientation where we laughed and cried, and dorm move-in where we cried some more. The process made me really proud of what we do here at UGA and gave me a new perspective on our students.

(Originally published Aug. 19, 2018)