No. 1 Fan
Whenever Lynn Wolf ’88, MBA ’00 has reached a crossroads in life, she’s always looked to Bentley.
She earned a bachelor's in Accounting here. After receiving her CPA credential and starting a career, she got her MBA here. And, in 2018, when Bentley put out a call for adjunct lecturers, she put aside 30 years of corporate success for a longtime dream: teaching here.
“From the time I was 20 years old, I wanted to teach at Bentley,” says Wolf, whose résumé spans public accounting, technology start-ups and venture capital. She recalls the words of her former accounting professor. “Bill Read said, ‘You have to make a decision: It’s corporate profits or intellectual curiosity.’
“I wasn’t sure about leaving the industry and the security of doing what I knew for so long. But I’m telling you, it was the best decision I ever made. I love every single day interacting with students, faculty and staff.”
Her students return the love.
In 2021, Wolf received the Joseph M. Cronin Award for Excellence in Academic Advising and Mentoring. Its late namesake was Bentley president from 1991 to 1997, noted for making the school more international and fostering a spirit of diversity and acceptance on campus.
“I consider the award a blessing and honor every day, because it means my students are saying I’m doing a good job,” says Wolf, who became a full-time faculty member in 2020. “I aspire to always do well, to continuously improve — and listening and learning from our students makes the circle complete.”
Learning the Language
To Wolf, accounting is a language that weaves through the story of every business. Her job, she says, is helping students not only learn that language, but also understand its place in whatever field they’ll pursue. She ticks off areas that are part of her own experience: accounting, finance, human resources, information technology and corporate administration.
“I try to take the concepts we study in class and say, ‘This is how I’ve seen it in the real world, and this is how I used it professionally or personally.’”
But the challenges start on day one.
“When first-year students come in, there’s a big fear of GB112,” Wolf says of a required core course called Tools and Concepts in Accounting and Finance. “It’s my mission to make them not fearful and help our Falcons succeed. I am amazed at their talent, hard work and ability to learn the concepts through the semester — and proud they are going to be alumni with me someday.”
Wolf finds that being a Double Falcon is an asset in advising students.
“I always start by saying, ‘I’m living proof you can do this. You’ve got this! And remember that, just because you have one bad exam, that is not going to define you. Always learn from the experience and gain knowledge from the material. That is what will carry you in your career.’
“When I open that door of being an alum, in addition to being the professor, students feel they can confide in me a little bit more,” she adds. “I’ve been in their shoes.”
Memories and Mission
Returning to Bentley has made for some bittersweet moments. Seeing prospective students and families on a campus tour, for example, stirs memories of her own visit as a high school student.
“If there is ever love at first sight with a place or someplace feeling like you’re home, it’s definitely at Bentley. My mother said, ‘I see you here at this school. This really is home.’ And she was so right,” says Wolf, whose mother saw her graduate in 1988 but passed away four years later.
As she teaches in rooms where she once studied, Wolf keeps one question top of mind. “How can I take what I learned in the real world — and how Bentley gave me an incredible life and career — and bring it back into the classroom for my students?
“There were a lot of things I had to learn in life the hard way, and I share experiences so students are one step ahead of where I started out. I try to take what’s in the textbook and line it up with what’s going on in the corporate world, so it’s more than just words in a book. It’s part of the toolbox students can take with them for their own careers.”
And when her students reach their crossroads in life? Wolf hopes they remember her experience — and find their personal inspiration.
“My mother never got to see me get my MBA. But I know she was with me then, and guiding me back to Bentley to teach. She’s looking down and happy that I’m home again.”