Corning retires from Adams State after 35 years

(07-23-2009)

Adams State College emeritus professor of accounting, Gerald Corning, joined the School of Business faculty 35 years ago, and he never lost his enthusiasm for his chosen profession. "To my delight, the last thirty-five years at Adams State have provided challenges and rewards. Teaching was everything I hoped it would be, and more."

Corning remembers when a representative from State Farm Insurance hosted a dinner and said "the most qualified accounting students in the state go to Adams State." The Arizona State auditor used to recruit in Colorado at Adams State.

In the last three-and-a-half decades, the School of Business accounting program has graduated students well-prepared for the professional world, thanks to Corning's commitment. Heather Heersink, Adams State budget director; Jenny (Browning) Yund, Adams State budget analysis; and Shay Yund finished their degrees in 2000. They often sat together in their accounting classes and remember Corning was not one to miss a class.

Although accounting may not be an exciting subject for some, those who choose it as a profession aren't all black or red ink. "He had a way of making the material interesting," Heersink said. "His has the kind of humor not everyone can appreciate, but I liked his style of delivery." Shay said he found Corning a bit intimidating as an incoming freshman. "His knowledge in the accounting field is over the top," Shay said. "I made it through that first course and enjoyed the upper divisional courses I took with him."

Jenny said Corning is a dedicated educator, who enjoys helping students succeed in and out of the classroom. She appreciated him taking a personal interest, and inquiring about her family. "From classroom lectures to Pacioli trips, to Toastmaster meetings, and graduation celebrations he was always supportive, encouraging and caring," Shay and Jenny said.

Respect of colleagues

Former Adams State president Dr. Tom Gilmore, emeritus professor of business and former dean of the School of Business, said Corning was one person who always quietly did whatever was needed. "At times in his career, he was the entire accounting department. This required hard work to keep up with all the different areas of accounting. But, he did what was needed and always gave students first-rate training."

Dr. Kurt Keiser, chair of the School of Business, called Corning "the backbone" of accounting, the school's flagship program. He referred to numerous letters of appreciation Corning has received from former students. "These are heartfelt, supportive, complimentary letters. How many of us will receive such letters from those we serve?" Keiser said.

"Just about everywhere I go in town, I run into a former student," Corning said, "they made it great to be here."

"It has been a wonderful 35 years," he continued. "I wouldn't have missed it for anything." Through the decades, Corning said the student population has changed - demographically, and new generations have different collegiate expectations. "Back in the late '60s and early '70s, we had a lot of Vietnam veterans take advantage of the GI Bill. Classes were filled with non-traditional aged students. After a decade or two of more students entering immediately from high school; we are back to more of a mix in the classrooms." He said the latest generation expects to be entertained "more today than before. I believe it is a reaction to television and computer era. Teaching is never stale profession."

Corning received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1966, and a Master in Business Administration from Western New Mexico University in 1976. He also attained professional certification as a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Certified Internal Auditor.

Fellow business professor Dr. Linda Reid, has known Corning for 15 years, as a professor and as a colleague and friend. "Jerry contributed by helping to make the accounting degrees at ASC as strong as they are today."

Student club advisor

Corning points out he has been at Adams State for one-third of the campus' history. He was raised in a small town in Nebraska, and Adams State and Alamosa have been a good fit. He has sponsored various organizations and encouraged the establishment of the Pacioli Accounting Club and Adams States chapter of Toastmasters International.

"Jerry was the Pacioli Club sponsor for many years and was instrumental in beginning the club," Reid said.

Accounting students can be introverted, and Toastmaster's International is an organization dedicated to helping people of all professions become comfortable with public speaking. "I talked to my accounting students about the Toastmaster's program. Within two weeks after my suggestion, they had information on a charter program for Adams State." Pacioli was another way to encourage the accounting students to socialize. "It was a good opportunity for students travel to state-wide and regional meetings and make new contacts."

The School of Business Administrative Assistant, Dolly Maestas said Corning helped hundreds of students to achieve their goals at ASC. "He has been an amazing and dedicated advisor to the Pacioli Accounting Club."

For nearly ten years after receiving his BS, Corning worked as a hospital controller, hospital administrator, and for a CPA firm. He began at Adams State in 1974 as an instructor of accounting and was later promoted to assistant and then associate professor of accounting. His first two summers on campus, Corning worked on completing his MBA. He recently missed his first CPA review class since his tenure, and taught summer courses for 33 years.

Friendships and memories collected

The School of Business professors and staff have a close working relationship and enjoy time together off campus, as well. Maestas said Corning is a very special person to everyone in the School of Business. "He is kind and considerate to everyone he meets. Jerry has a great sense of humor, and I enjoy being around him."

Over the years he has served on many committees such as budget, curriculum review, and served a couple terms as a faculty senator. He was the accountant for the Gingerbread House Early Learning Center, located on campus, for 15 years, and has served as faculty marshal for Adams State's Commencement Ceremonies for the last two years.

"I know that our friendship will continue, and I wish him the best of everything in his retirement," Maestas said.

The School of Business received a Program of Excellence Award in 1991. "The atmosphere in the School of Business has always been about putting the students first," Corning said. "As colleagues we support each other and have always believed in the personal touch as it applies to teaching. Whether or not the faculty see eye-to-eye they always respect each other's views."

"Jerry's wit, charm, and madcap personality will be missed," Keiser said.

"He has not only helped students, he is always close by whenever one of his colleagues needs a hand," said Maestas. "I am privileged to have worked with him for the last 22 years." To celebrate Corning's retirement, a group from the School of Business treated him to a retirement dinner at a casino in northern New Mexico. "We enjoy socializing," Corning said. "Those who could not make it to the dinner took me to lunch at a later date."

He and his wife, Susanne, have four children, Travis, Michelle (Greg Straight), Blair (Becky), and Tamara (Trent) and four grandchildren. Gerald plans on spending more time with his grandchildren and going fishing after retiring.

Reid said: "The business department and ASC have lost a great professor and colleague. Jerry and I spent many lunches together discussing a variety of fun and interesting topics, including the Broncos. Even though quiet, Jerry is a wonderful friend."

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