Assistant Professor, Accounting
Life doesn’t always go according to our plans-and that is exactly what Kathy Hurtt was thinking on a plane ride back to Wisconsin from Texas.
Originally from California, Hurtt earned a bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University and an MBA from California State University-Stanislaus. She later worked in industry for an insurance company, moved to public accounting with KPMG, and served as the director of internal audit for the University of the Pacific.
Hurtt went on to earn a PhD from the University of Utah and became a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin. However, after several years, she found herself on a plane to Texas to interview for a position at Baylor.
“I wasn’t looking to move, but a few people had mentioned Baylor to me,” she said. “One said, ‘God is doing exciting things at Baylor.’ I thought I would never live in Texas, but I vividly remember praying on the plane about the decision and knowing that I was wrong, and God was right.”
Hurtt began teaching at Baylor in 2004 and currently teaches Accounting Information Systems (a core Accounting class) and a graduate level fraud class. Hurtt passed along her love of Baylor to her brother, David Hurtt, who is also a Baylor Accounting department faculty member.
“As a faculty member in the Accounting department, I feel like we are standing on the shoulders of giants,” she said. “This department has a legacy of outstanding educators and scholars.”
If you ask Hurtt questions about her research, chances are, you will get a lot of questions in return. Hurtt’s research focuses on judgment and decision making among auditors, specifically on the impact of professional skepticism on auditors’ judgments and behaviors.
“With my research, I want to answer several questions: What is professional skepticism? Can you make people more skeptical? If so, how? With financial statement failures, we need better audits,” she said.
Hurtt developed a scale to measure professional skepticism, which was included in her paper “Development of a Scale to Measure Professional Skepticism,” published in Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, May 2010. The U.S. Center for Audit Quality cited Hurtt’s paper in its release, “Deterring and Detecting Financial Reporting Fraud.”
Hurtt’s research is also influencing auditing standard setting on a global scale. Her working paper “Professional Skepticism: A Model with Implications for Research, Practice and Education” was cited in the U.K.’s Auditing Practices Board (APB) white paper “Auditor Skepticism: Raising the Bar.” The APB is part of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), which serves as the U.K.’s organization that sets external auditing standards.
Within the classroom, Hurtt holds a high level of respect for her students.
“Accounting students work hard and want to be involved in their world,” she said. “It’s a huge privilege to be part of their lives and see the transformational process of students moving toward becoming professionals.”
While Hurtt is eager to see students transform into professionals, she hopes they become professionals with a purpose. One way the Accounting department focuses on business with a purpose is incorporating faith and learning by taking an annual departmental mission trip to Uganda-students work with local pastors, partner with Uganda Christian University students, and learn from and offer advice to local businesses. Hurtt will be accompanying students on the trip this summer.
“There are so many applications for business professionals,” she said. “I believe it’s important to help students bring glory to the Kingdom of God as they impact the world.”