Faculty & Staff Feature: Meet Michelle Staebell

February 15, 2024

Photo of accounting faculty Michelle Stabell smiling with arms crossed.
1. Describe your role as accounting faculty at Golisano Institute. What does a day in the life of Michelle Staebell look like?

I designed the first two accounting classes, which will be held in Q3 and Q4, and I’m excited about it. In Q1, I taught business math, a related topic that gets students primed for real-life financial decision-making, and I am currently co-teaching an entrepreneurship course with Dr. Erv Starr. It was so helpful to get to know the students before Q3 accounting starts and be active in the classroom so early in the program. Then, in Q7, I will be teaching another accounting-related class that will focus on business taxation. 

2. When you’re not teaching, what does a day at Golisano Institute look like for you?

Every day is interesting because I don’t always know what my day is going to look like. It’s constantly busy. I love checklists and usually have something I’m working to check off, whether it’s building a course for a later quarter, grading assignments, or planning with a co-teacher. By design, my role as a faculty member heavily focuses on student interaction and mentoring. Someone is always poking their head into my office to ask a question or connect on a project, and I welcome it! 

3. How have your diverse career experience shaped your approach to teaching?

After working in public accounting for over 10 years, I started my own practice providing accounting services to small business owners, from real estate agents to creatives. I find fulfillment in helping them manage the financial aspects of their work and taking some of the stress off them. However, I reached a point where I hit 360 clients and couldn’t scale further due to the seasonal nature of the tax industry.  

Simultaneously, I ventured into teaching full-time. Here, I don’t just teach students the mechanics of accounting or how to manage their books; I get to share my real-world experiences and stories from my own entrepreneurial endeavors. I do this to help students navigate the complexities of taxation, which often involve judgment calls and ethical considerations. For example, I’ll share questions I receive from my own accounting clients and ask students, “What would you do in this situation?”  

While I had to scale back on my own business, it’s been worth it to transition into teaching and bring my real-world experiences into the classroom. My husband is also an entrepreneur who runs two businesses, so he keeps me connected to that world. 

4. What can students expect from taking a course with you?

My goal is to provide a classroom experience that goes beyond traditional accounting courses and helps students apply their knowledge immediately after leaving the class. By bridging the gap between theory and real-world scenarios, I aim to foster a deeper understanding and practical skills in my students. 

With that said, I do use quizzes as a tool to hold students accountable and encourage them to engage with the material. Having taught for over ten years, I’ve learned that simply assigning readings without accountability measures often leads to a lack of engagement. While quizzes may not be preferred by all students, they help ensure active participation in their learning and better prepare them to apply the concepts in real-world scenarios. 

5. Why did you choose to join Golisano Institute, and what are some differences you see in your approach to business education?

One significant factor that drew me to Golisano Institute was the emphasis on faculty with entrepreneurial experience. Though I hold academic credentials, I liked that my entrepreneurial background would be valued here. We take a more holistic approach to ensuring students are ready to take on the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur or leader in business. I have the flexibility to help students work on practical skills, like QuickBooks, which directly benefits them. Being given the freedom to focus on real-world experiences is a testament to Golisano’s commitment to providing practical, relevant education. This approach allows us to deliver coursework that prepares students for the ever-evolving business landscape. 


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