- President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (2009)
Pankaj Saksena loves accounting, and he especially loves to teach it. "I'm not on mood enhancing drugs. I'm on an accounting high!" he says in a university orientation video.
Saksena, who goes by P. N., strives to make learning fun and enjoyable, but that doesn't mean he makes it easy. Students consistently comment on how rigorous his courses are, but they also say that they learn and retain a great deal of information. "This has been the hardest class so far, and I have learned the most from it," said one student. "I have never had a teacher who was so willing to help his students. I hope I am lucky enough to have Dr. Saksena again."
Saksena has been teaching classes at Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) for more than 13 years. During that time, he has earned the Excellence in Teaching Award from School of Business and Economics every year since 1998. He was a co-recipient of the Education of the Year Award presented by the Student Government Association of IU South Bend in 1998. In 2001 alone, he was awarded the IUSB Trustee Teaching Award, the IU Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) award, the Faculty of the Year Award, and the IUSB Distinguished Teaching Award.
"These numerous recognitions from colleagues, students, and administrators are a compelling statement about P.N.'s contributions as an educator," said Rob Ducoffe, dean of the School of Business and Economics. "He is 'known' for his teaching excellence at IU South Bend."
And Saksena is just as successful outside of the classroom. He's been published numerous times and received three Summer Faculty Research Fellowships. Passionate about helping students, he's served as a faculty advisor to the Accounting Association as well as a member of numerous IUSB and School of Business and Economics committees.
His accessibility as a professor is one of the reasons Saksena is so popular. He gives out his home phone number for after-hours questions and responds to e-mails so quickly that students joke he must carry a computer around with him all day. But it's Saksena's genuine interest in his students' lives in and out of the classroom that they cite as his greatest attribute. "Over time, P. N. became not only a resource, but a valued friend and confidant that truly valued me as an individual, not just as a student," said Stacy Downey, a former student.
He is also a great resource for networking. "When I wanted to learn more about a specific firm, he put me in contact with some of his previous students who worked there," said Christina Counsellor Murphy, a former student. "It was because of P. N.'s counseling that I received offers from the 'Big Four' accounting firms. If it was not for his encouragement and mentoring, I probably never would have even tried to work for one of those firms."
Faculty in the Department of Business and Economics have come to Saksena for advice and information, and they too, are struck by his dedication to teaching. "He is a keen student of the teaching profession, striving to learn and practice the most effective ways to have the maximum positive impact on students," said Murali Chari, a colleague of Saksena's.
But the hallmark of his success according to Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Alfred J. Guillaume Jr. is Saksena's passion for teaching: "He may not be high on mood enhancing drugs, but he certainly gets enormous satisfaction and pleasure in his interaction with students."