2018 Top 50 Undergraduate Professors: Amal Shehata, New York University (Stern)

Amal Shehata

Clinical Associate Professor and Academic Director, BS/MS Dual Degree Program

New York University, Stern School of Business

Having experienced a class taught by NYU Stern School of Business professor Amal Shehata, one student’s review simply — yet emphatically — reads: “TAKE HER, TAKE HER, TAKE HER!” Similarly, ask faculty and administrators about Shehata, and you’ll like get an audible and visible reaction, inevitably followed by something along the lines of, “Oh, she’s just the best,” or “I love her.” One administrator even notes that every time he hears Professor Shehata talk about accounting, he secretly considers making a job switch because of her enthusiasm. This NYU Stern fan favorite is passionate about teaching and making a connection with students. Her deep focus on students continues to be her trademark and the special care she takes to ensure they are gaining as much as possible. Yet her deep focus on students extends well beyond the classroom. She serves as faculty advisor for four undergraduate student organizations, academic director of the BS/MS in Accounting Dual Degree program offered in NYU Stern’s Undergraduate College, and works closely with students to help them navigate employment opportunities based on their interests. This year, she received the Stern Distinguished Teaching Award.

Age: 46

Education: Bachelor of Science – Business Administration and Master of Science in Accounting, both degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

At current institution since: full-time since 2015, Adjunct since 2003

List of courses you currently teach: Principles of Financial Accounting, Auditing

What professional achievement are you most proud of? I recently created and filmed an online accounting course that is offered to students all over the world.

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” I taught my first recitation class while in graduate school working as a Teaching Assistant.

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Exhilarating

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? N/A, as a clinical faculty member, I do not research.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? I tend to repeat certain themes throughout my course and I often warn my students that I will “beat a dead horse”; one semester, my students gave me a horse-shaped piñata at the end of the semester and we all stuffed ourselves on candy!

Since you first started teaching, how has business education changed? I have found that the varying disciplines within business education are much more aligned and coordinated than when I first started teaching.  For example, accounting complements many of the other skills my students are learning and they have discovered ways to take the accounting skills and credentials and apply them to their passions ranging from entrepreneur endeavors to political to sustainability and more.  My students are not just driven by making money, they really want to develop meaningful skills so they can contribute and have fulfilling careers.

“If I weren’t a business school professor, I would be…” I would somehow find a way to teach, I find it to be so rewarding and invigorating.

“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a professor”: I did not realize how stimulating the pedagogical and curriculum development would be (even with accounting!).  I also love how I can help my students beyond the academic boundaries. And don’t be fooled, professors work hard during the summer months!

Name of the professor you most admire and why: I have 2 favorite Professors:  First was my Professor at UNC when I was a student, Dr. James Wahlen (currently Chair of the Indiana University Accounting Department).  He is still a dear friend and mentor whom I turn to for advice and guidance regularly. He makes me feel I can do anything! My other dear mentor was the late Professor Aaron Hipscher, a beloved NYU Stern Professor.  He brought me into NYU and he taught me that being a Professor allows you to build relationships with your students and guide them both inside and outside of the classroom.

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? I love teaching undergraduate students!  I am deeply inspired by their curiosity, their work ethic, their competence, their dreams, I feel they will change the world for the better … to quote my son’s middle school Principal, “It is a privilege to serve the youth”.

What’s the biggest challenge? I wish I could take some of their worries away.  They are so hard-working and earnest and if only I could reassure them that everything will work out…

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? I can’t name just one (I guess this is a pattern with me!)…my students have written books, started charities and campus clubs, produced music, overcome tragedies both personal and political, dealt with serious medical issues, been recognized for awards and leadership, volunteered their time for important causes, been accepted into premier doctoral programs … they are seriously impressive!

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Dishonest behavior. Enough said.

Since you’ve been teaching, how have students changed over the years? My undergrads seem to be more sophisticated, worldlier, they have meaningful work experience … maybe this is the nature of students attracted to NYU and the big city.

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? My syllabi are a clear reflection of what is expected in my classes.  If a student stays on top of the material, completes assignments and participates, they should be in good shape.  I expect a lot from my students and they do not disappoint!

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Tough but fair; again, I expect a lot of my students

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be? Something energetic, teaching gives me a rush of energy

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Earnest

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Entitled

Fun fact about yourself: My name is an Arabic word that means “Hope” in English.

What are your hobbies? Reading, dancing, playing cards and board games, playing with my kids

How did you spend your summer? Family vacations and creating and filming an online Accounting course.

Favorite place to vacation: Anywhere that I can have a combo of beach and city and delicious food…

Favorite book: I love to read so I don’t have just one; a few of my favorites:  The Chaperone, Beneath a Marble Sky, The God of Small Things, Pachinko, Lord of the Flies (I just re-read this with my son, wow!), The Red Tent, The Kite Runner, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and so many more.  I have just started reading “Quirky” by my colleague, Professor Melissa Schilling.

Favorite movie and/or television show: Life is Beautiful and Manhattan

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: I love dance music and New Orleans funk music

Bucket list item #1: I want to return to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (again) but this time with my husband and kids

What’s the biggest challenge facing business education at the moment? Business Education is at a time of exciting change; with new technology and sustainability and data analytics, there is so much discovery and many new ways to contribute.  And of course, accounting is always the necessary skill to facilitate all of this change, it is still the language of business!

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would be like for you: To be honest, I feel very fulfilled at this stage of life.  I have a loving family with 2 healthy kids, I love my job and my students and I have a supportive work environment that allows me to explore new opportunities and take on interesting responsibilities, “my cup runneth over…”

Students say…

“Taking this course changed my career projections and actually changed my life (no I’m not being dramatic). Professor Shehata is hands down one of the best (or the best) professors I have ever had. I found the class incredibly interesting, especially with the care she took to ensure students took in as much as possible. TAKE HER, TAKE HER, TAKE HER!”