Business Professor Nationally Recognized for Faculty Mentorship
John McQuilkin received the 2023 Delta Sigma Pi Chapter Advisor of the Year Award
BRISTOL, R.I. – If you’re looking for John McQuilkin, chances are he’s in his office on the second floor of the Mario J. Gabelli School of Business. Students know that five days a week – and weekends if you ask – McQuilkin is on campus, ready to help with any questions or dilemmas, or to just listen.
That is, unless the Associate Professor of Accounting is traveling with students from Roger Williams University’s chapter of Delta Sigma Pi, a co-ed professional business fraternity, to their national events – where he’s often the only fraternity chapter advisor in attendance.
Nominated by his students, McQuilkin, who has taught at Roger Williams University for 15 years, received the 2023 Delta Sigma Pi Chapter Advisor of the Year Award. This honor is presented annually “to one collegiate chapter advisor who has excelled in service to the chapter and the fraternity as a whole,” according to the fraternity, which has 219 active chapters and 50 franchised alumni chapters. Advisors are evaluated based on their professional accomplishments and contributions to chapter recruiting, service, scholarship, academics, and campus relations.
“Professor McQuilkin always gives 110 percent to everything. He cares deeply about his students,” said junior Mackenzie Morgenweck, a Delta Sigma Pi member and an Accounting and Management double major and Political Science and Data Analytics double minor. "Even though he doesn’t have to come to campus every day, he’s here five days a week. It’s important to recognize that he puts in more time than just going to Delta Sigma Pi chapter meetings.”
When McQuilkin learned of the award, he said he was both honored and humbled. “That’s not why I do what I do,” he said. “I really believe in the students. I enjoy working with them.”
As part of the nomination, Adam Cavanaugh ’23, former chapter president, wrote a letter of support, stating that he’s witnessed firsthand McQuilkin’s positive contributions, including RWU’s Delta Sigma Pi chapter being named Chapter of Excellence in 2021 as well as an 800 percent growth in national event attendance.
“After interacting with many chapter advisors across the country, John exhibited rare qualities that made him stand out – both from his interest in learning more about the fraternity’s operations and governance but also with supporting and forming connections with each member,” said Cavanagh, a Milford, Mass. resident who graduated with Management and International Business degrees and a Political Science minor.
Personal Connection Makes the Difference
McQuilkin embodies Roger Williams’s mission of providing students with faculty mentorship and close personal attention – both in and out of the classroom. One of his primary responsibilities, as both a professor and faculty advisor, is connecting students with the industry and helping them find fulfilling careers, he said.
“My job is not just being a sage on a stage. I attempt to personally connect with each of my students,” he said. “Every single student has gifts and passions. Seeing them find their passion and excel is extremely important.”
When it comes to his work, which McQuilkin describes as more of a calling, he said his goal is to bring out the best in his students and help them achieve their full potential. Some have even gone on to work at the “Big 4,” or the four largest accounting firms in the United States: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler.
“When I see students develop their confidence, that’s really exciting,” he said.
McQuilkin also mentors students outside the classroom. As faculty advisor for Delta Sigma Pi, he said his role is to be highly supportive of the students, who take the lead on running meetings and organizing events. He offers advice if they ask but encourages student leaders to take charge.
In addition to Delta Sigma Pi, McQuilkin has also served as the faculty advisor for other business-related clubs as well as Beta Alpha Psi, the international organization for financial information students and professionals.
Having worked in the industry for decades prior to joining Roger Williams, McQuilkin shares his business expertise with his students. He began his career as a tax attorney for an international accounting firm in Los Angeles and worked his way to become the Chief Financial Officer for a major mortgage company before he pivoted to teaching.
A Mentor Every Step of the Way
Morgenweck, of Rehoboth, Mass., first met McQuilkin before she enrolled at Roger. As an accepted student, she connected with McQuilkin, who gave her a personal on-campus tour and spent time talking with her about academic paths, student clubs and organizations, and all the opportunities she could have at the university. “He goes out of his way for students,” she said.
When Morgenweck needed someone to talk to about her career aspirations, she sought McQuilkin’s advice. “I struggled last semester with what I wanted to do with my majors. I worked with Professor McQuilkin to find solutions and career paths,” she said. “He’s really helped me in my journey – from what classes I should take to ideas for internships and what would be best for me and my future.”
Though 8 a.m. is too early for class in Morgenweck’s opinion, if McQuilkin is teaching, she said she’s excited to wake up and go.
“He’s an amazing person,” she said. “Roger is lucky to have him.”