June 18, 2012
Victoria Shoaf, CPA, Ph.D., Dean of The
Peter J. Tobin College of Business (TCB), was born and raised
in California. After joining TCB as a member of the faculty in
1997, she went on to serve as the Associate Dean for Academic
Affairs and the Chair of TCB’s Department of
Accounting and Taxation. Dr. Shoaf became Dean in 2011, after
serving as interim Dean during the 2010-2011 academic year.
What was your first career aspiration?
My father was an accountant and I used to sit in our family room
with him while he used one of those old ledger machines with a
handle on the side. I used to think, “Oh no, I’d never want to do
that.” So I went to school and got a BA in English. I guess I
thought I’d become an English teacher. Instead, I started as a
typist in a small accounting department. Little by little, I moved
around in the company, doing different jobs until they sent me to
get my MBA. Then I became the comptroller.
Do you remember your first day at St.
I remember it well, because I got lost on the way here. I’m from
California originally, and I had just moved to Westchester. This
was long before there was a GPS, and I had never been to Queens
Describe a typical workday for you as a
There is absolutely no such thing as a typical workday. Even when I
have nothing scheduled, things seem to pop up. I believe in having
an open door. Professors come by, students come by — anyone can
come by, so I have to be prepared. I actually find that after 4:30
p.m., when the office officially closes, is the best time for me to
get things done.
If you could be or do anything else, what might that
I would be six inches taller and I would be a country-and-western
singer. I sing — not necessarily well, but loud — so it’s unlikely
that my talent will ever be recognized.
If you could live in another time, when would that
As a woman, I think this is absolutely the best time and place ever
to have lived. In any other time, you wouldn’t have a female
If you could change one thing about your job, what would
This job is all about change. It’s the one thing that
you’re constantly doing — trying to change things. Of course, I’d
like to have more resources for faculty development and I’d love to
have more space. I’m always trying to make things better for our
What’s the one thing about you that people don’t
Everything in my life hangs out there in the open — there’s not a
lot about me that’s secret — but people may not know that the love
of my life is my grandson and there’s going to be another
Is there a fun fact that most people don’t know about
I’m not sure how “fun” this is, but there are roughly 40,000 Tobin
College alumni in the New York Metro area alone. I don’t think that
people realize that a large number of them are chief executive
officers, chief operating officers and partners of big firms.
What makes a degree from the Tobin College of Business
Our alumni base is outstanding — you just can’t beat it. Our grads
get so many job offers, because our alumni want St. John’s
students. Another thing that makes us so unique is this: three
courses in philosophy and three in theology. Everyone here has to
take those courses and I think it gives our students an incredible
background in critical thinking and in values.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give a
Know your professors, and make your presence felt. If you have
questions, ask them. Beyond that, St. John’s offers many
opportunities and experiences, so take advantage of them. If you’re
not sure what you want to do, explore some different organizations.
Take the opportunity to connect with people and learn what’s out
there. You wouldn’t expect an accounting major to attend an Alice
McDermott lecture — and yet, why not?
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned from a
I learn a lot from students, but mostly I’ve learned that everyone
has different perspectives and priorities. People with incredible
hardships persevere and somehow manage to juggle things and pull
through. It gives me a lot of respect for students. It’s easy to
say, “They have to come to my class, and they have to do their
assignments,” without realizing how full and complicated their
lives may be.