Growing up there were two things Lawrence Chui was adamant he was not going to be: an accountant or a teacher. Now, as a certified public accountant and an assistant professor of accounting at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, Chui credits his change of heart to his experience at Truman.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chui moved to Kirksville to pursue a degree in business at Truman in 1996. After experimenting in other aspects of business, Chui declared finance as his major. Upon graduation and prior to him becoming a U.S. citizen in later years, Chui had a difficult time finding employment because of his international student status. That, and the fact he had found a second home in Kirksville, led him to apply to Truman’s Masters of Accountancy program.
While working towards his master’s, Chui got his first exposure to the classroom as a graduate teaching research assistant. He found he enjoyed interacting with his students both inside and outside the classroom. This newfound passion led him to pursue teaching at every stage of his career. Besides Truman, Chui has taught at Moberly Area Community College in Kirksville, the University of North Texas and currently at the University of St. Thomas.
Chui summarizes his teaching philosophy in three words: professionalism, enthusiasm and compassion. Although he has a clearly defined teaching philosophy, he acknowledges it is not always easy to translate it into the classroom. He understands each student learns differently and each has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Chui is always willing to go above and beyond to help his students.
For example, he usually spends a few hours at the library the night before each exam in order to provide students with any last minute help.
“I try to help my students understand how they learn best and seek to optimize the times they spend learning my course material both effectively and efficiently,” he said.
His efforts were recognized in 2012 when Chui was nominated for the Julie Hayes teaching award at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas.
While Chui has a Ph.D., from the University of North Texas in accounting, he is not, in his own words, “just one of those number guys.” He is very involved in behavioral accounting research that focuses on judgment and decision-making in auditing. He has published his research in various accounting academic journals. Chui’s most recent findings on the impact of biases on auditors’ decision-making performance related to analytical procedures was published in The Accounting Review, an internationally premier peer-reviewed academic journal in accounting.
“I have learned that accounting is more than numbers. It is a science. It is a social science that can be researched,” Chui said.
He has also taken a particular interest in forensic accounting, which is the application of investigative and analytical skills to determine the existence and the source of fraud. In the fall of 2012, he became a consultant for the St. Paul Police Department as part of the Fraud Audit Service Team, a partnership between the University of St. Thomas and the local police. Chui has recently assisted in the investigation of two embezzlement cases.
In addition to his teaching, research and consulting role, Chui is currently serving in a leadership position at the American Accounting Association Public Interest section.
Chui acknowledges faith as an important part of who he is today, and he credits his local church and his experiences as an undergraduate at Truman for helping him make that connection.
No matter where the future takes him, Chui will always remember the school that gave him his start, and the community that welcomed him.
“Truman State University is more than just a liberal arts university to me, and Kirksville is more than just a small town in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “The students, staff and faculty at Truman, along with the people in Kirksville, have all played a positive and important role in my life.”