Accounting and the arts might seem like an odd couple to some, but Roby Sawyers sees both as integral pieces of his experience at NC State University. He also recognizes the critical role that private giving plays for the two disciplines.
Sawyers, who has been at NC State since 1989, is a professor in the Department of Accounting in the Poole College of Management. His most recent research focuses on state and federal tax policy. He also does consulting work with the state legislature and Congress on tax-related issues.
Alongside his accounting research and work, Sawyers, together with his wife, Amber, is a member of the university’s Chancellor’s Circle. The two are loyal supporters of ARTS NC State — which includes University Theatre, the Gregg Museum of Art & Design and four other performing and visual arts programs.
“Having those kinds of programs here just really enriches your life. We have enjoyed and benefited from these productions,” Sawyers said. He praised the nurturing and supportive environment for faculty at NC State but stressed the importance of other factors in making the university feel like a community.
“It’s not all about teaching and research,” he said.
Sawyers initially was taken aback by the talent of both teachers like John McIlwee — director of University Theatre — and student performers. He said the quality and diversity of programs and productions put on at the university is even more special considering there are no music and theater majors at NC State.
At some point I realized, we do all of this at the university without a theater major. To think, these students are majoring in engineering, chemistry, humanities and business. What they can do and the commitment that they make has been impressive.
Sawyers supports the arts at NC State though philanthropy and attending performances. He also serves on the Friends of the Gregg Board of Directors. The board’s duties include fundraising for the Gregg Museum’s new home in the Historic Chancellor’s Residence on Hillsborough Street. Construction is underway.
In addition to his support of the arts, Sawyers has seen firsthand the difference that philanthropy makes in the Department of Accounting. The department receives substantial support for students, faculty, research and other programs from accounting firms that recruit NC State graduates, for example.
“That kind of support from the firms allows us to do a lot of things that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” Sawyers said. The department is currently developing a graduate certificate program — with help from private firms — that will address specialized skills accounting firms are looking for in new hires.
“The firms see the high quality of the students that we graduate, and they’re willing to really contribute — both monetarily and with their time — to help us improve the programs here in the Poole College of Management and in the Department of Accounting,” Sawyers said.
He encourages other faculty and staff members to find areas at the university that speak to their passion and then to invest.
I am part of this community of students, faculty and staff. I enjoy the experiences that the university provides, and if I want to continue enjoying those experiences I realize I need to give back.
Gifts from faculty and staff play a significant role in moving NC State from good to great. Employees can direct their gifts to the college, campus or program of their choice, including the recently launched NC State Employee Dependent’s Tuition Scholarship, which provides partial financial support to dependents of full-time employees. For more information, please visit our faculty and staff page.