For 11 years, Professor of Accounting Jane Reimers has brought a sense of humor and personalized attention to number crunching.
Chairman of the Board David Lord '69 '71MBA and Dean Craig McAllaster recognize professor Jane Reimers (center) at the 2014 commencement ceremony for the Crummer Graduate School of Business. (Photo by Scott Cook)
Jane Reimers was excellent with numbers. Most accounting professors are.
How she forged lasting relationships is what set her apart.
“Prior to the beginning of each semester, Jane would memorize names and pictures from a student roster,” says Jule Gassenheimer, professor of marketing. “Then, during the first class, without the help from a class role or a nameplate, Jane would go around the room and address each student by his or her name. Right then and there, the students knew they were more than a number.”
Reimers, the 2009 Cornell Distinguished Professor at the Crummer Graduate School of Business, is retiring this spring after 11 years of teaching accounting courses at Rollins College.
Not quite an Orlando native, but close enough—she moved from Des Moines, Iowa, to College Park in fourth grade—Reimers graduated from the University of Florida and began her career teaching math at Oak Ridge High School and her alma mater, Edgewater High School. Armed with her CPA license and a master’s in accounting from UCF, she worked at Coopers and Lybrand in Orlando before heading to the University of Michigan to earn her doctorate in 1986.
From there, she began to make a name for herself in higher education, teaching in the MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and chairing the accounting department at Florida State University. In 2003, with her parents’ health failing, the time was right to move back to Orlando.
“I was the only child who could actually take care of [my parents],” she says. “The job at Rollins coincidentally opened up right around the time things got really critical. Even though I came here because of my parents, I would have taken the job, regardless. It was the best job ever.”
Dean Craig McAllaster and Professor of Accounting Charles Brandon played big roles in Reimers becoming a Tar, and it wasn’t long before her enthusiasm, innovation, approachability, and zest for life quickly won over faculty, staff, and students.
But it is Reimers’ humor—often self-deprecating—that sets people at ease and makes her so deeply loved.
“Jane is such a wonderful friend who has taught me so much—even when I was laughing hysterically,” says Mary Conway Dato-on, associate professor of international business. “We will never laugh in faculty meetings like we have in Jane’s presence. And we will probably not be challenged as deeply to keep our focus on the students.”
“Her style of teaching, which brought forward her comedic side, often times was laugh-out-loud funny,” says former student Brooke Beltran. “She made a subject that could be rather intense really enjoyable.”
Indeed, Reimers’ quick wit and down-to-earth approach transformed potentially boring material.
“During the first day of class,” former student Jared Denton says, “Dr. Reimers informed us of one rule she had—never use the ‘B’ word to refer to her or her class. Other classes and professors may be ‘boring,’ but not this one!”
Reimers was a fun-loving, joke-cracking professor. That made her a pushover who dished out easy A’s, right?
Gassenheimer called her colleague “one of the toughest graders at Crummer,” only generating more respect. Reimers’ fairness and humor kept students connected and feeling appreciated — traits that led her to six “favorite teacher” awards at Crummer.
A Mother’s Influence
Reimers’ passion for education runs in her family. Before her brother, Jim Klindt, became a judge in Jacksonville, he taught elementary school. Her sister, Donna Shannon, holds a doctorate in library science and taught at the University of South Carolina. But it was her late mother, Bessie Klindt—from rural Iowa and the wife of a mailman—who had the greatest impact on her life.
“My mother thought that women especially should be teachers, so they could be there for the kids when they got home from school,” Reimers says. “That was the era of my upbringing. … She thought teachers were at the top of the heap—so if we could go to school and be teachers, whoa! How good would that be?”
Bessie Klindt, who never finished high school, worked in a school lunchroom. After moving to Orlando, she got her GED and was promoted to cafeteria manager.
“She was the world’s greatest mother,” Reimers says. “She should have won an award. My whole goal in life was to be as good a mother as she was.”
Accomplishments at Rollins
Apart from her multiple teaching awards, published research, and special bonds formed with colleagues, Reimers points to the development of online instructional materials as her biggest accomplishment.
A few years ago, Crummer decided to start a program that blended online learning with traditional, in-person classes. Reimers, always on top of the latest technology, took the lead. In 2013, she got her master’s in instructional design from UMass Boston, then launched Rollins’ first MOOC (massive open online course)—financial accounting for nonfinancial managers.
Reimers admits that the blended concept has its supporters and detractors on the Rollins campus and can be a detriment if done poorly. But, she says, if done correctly, it has the potential to change college for the good.
Certain courses, Reimers explains, are naturally geared toward online learning, which gives students more flexibility and modern resources.
“I teach accounting,” she says, “and if you sit in class and are lost, you’re lost, and it just moves forward without you. But if you’re doing it online, you can stop and pause and look back. … It’s the ability to reach people at different levels in personal ways. A difficult subject like statistics or accounting or something procedural—it’s perfect for online.”
Reimers recently moved to Colorado to be near her son, Tom Butt, a software engineer for Red Hat. She plans to use her instructional design skills in a consulting capacity, already doing part-time work for the Illinois CPA Society and the Rollins Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership Center.
Calling it the perfect time to retire, Reimers reflects on her 29 years in higher education as being a great way for her to develop friendships with students—many of whom just wanted to ask for life advice or seek a shoulder to cry on.
“What I think the most about are the individual relationships and help I may have provided to people in a tough spot,” she says. “It could be accounting or have nothing to do with accounting. When I get an email from someone years later, it just makes my day.”
Such an example is Ashlee Weisser ’09MBA.
“My husband and I moved to Denver two years ago for my job,” Weisser says, “and since then moved to a small suburb outside of the city. Shortly after, I sent Jane a Christmas card, and she realized that her son lived a mile from me. To make it even better, she had recently purchased a home about a mile from us as well. While I know future Crummer students will be missing out on having her as a professor, I am delighted that she will be close to me in Denver!”