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At the interface between numbers and people

Throughout her career, Teri Shearer has immersed herself in business and accounting – numbers, yes, but also how those financial statements affect people and social structures.

[Teri Shearer]
Earlier this month, Teri Shearer became deputy provost of Queen's University. (University Communications)

“I’ve always been really interested in the interface between the numbers and people’s behaviour,” says Dr. Shearer, who took over from Laeeque Daneshmend as the university’s deputy provost this month. “My research has largely focused on management accounting – budgeting, incentive systems and cost-tracking – and the sociological and behavioural impacts of business practices.”

Dr. Shearer has stepped into the deputy provost role after 20 years at the Smith School of Business – a number that’s significant to her as she transitions to a senior administrative position.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Smith, but it seemed time to move to a more central position. Taking this position is a great opportunity to move beyond the walls of my faculty and get a view of the university as a whole,” says Dr. Shearer. “I want to experience the workings of the central university and expose myself to how other units approach operations.”

The deputy provost position is broad – in large part focused on the university’s finances and cost-containment, an area to which Dr. Shearer is well-suited, given her role in business education and the administration at Smith, where she was most recently associate dean. The position also oversees all academic appointments, as well as operations at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. She will also play a key role in implementing the Employment Equity Strategic Framework.

“I am looking forward to this work on employment equity. It’s a very important area and one I am committed to pushing forward. The university – all universities – needs to be a model for students, and attracting more members of equity-seeking groups is a huge priority.”

Born in Iowa, Dr. Shearer started her career as a bookkeeper, and later as a certified accountant. She enjoyed the work, but craved more in-depth study of business practices, and so pursued a PhD at the University of Iowa. Soon after, she moved north to Canada, teaching at the University of Saskatchewan for three years before coming to Queen’s in 1996. Queen’s mid-sized status, along with its dual focus on research and the learning experience, have always appealed to her.

“This is a great place to be, as a student, faculty member, or administrator,” she says. “I am excited to see what I will learn in my new role.”

Learning is definitely part of the job, and she relishes the opportunity this career move provides. She also knows that, like everyone, she needs balance, something she says she finds in her garden, and with the animals she’s kept over the years on her hobby farm northwest of Kingston – everything from chickens and turkeys, to goats, sheep and llamas.

“The gardening and farming is something tangible I do to offset all the non-tangible work I do in the office,” she says.