Accounting for the Community

UNC Asheville’s auditor balances education and service

Monique Taylor must stand alone—it is a matter of professional ethics. As UNC Asheville’s internal auditor, she must be independent in fact and appearance. But outside of her daily job, she’s an active member of the community, partnering on projects and leading in teaching and service. 

Taylor may be best known on the UNC Asheville campus for her work as the volunteer director of the university’s VITA (Voluntary Income Tax Assistance) program, engaging students in providing free income tax preparation for low- and moderate-income individuals in Asheville. Students at A-B Tech know her too—she teaches accounting there as an adjunct faculty member.

Plus, she’s been a board member for Asheville Sister Cities and traveled to Nigeria to help establish Asheville’s sister cities relationship with Osogbo. Then the YMI Cultural Center, which was struggling financially, invited her to join its board and bring in needed financial controls.

“I’m a believer that you need a liberal arts background to help you understand more than just number-crunching.”
 — Monique Taylor, UNC Asheville internal auditor

As she got involved with the YMI, she also began work on a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Phoenix.

Her thesis-in-progress is titled The Institutional Prioritization of Service. “The bulk of existing research is about students who have self-selected to do the service, and the outcomes look great,” she says. “But if students perform service as a requirement, do they still have that level of commitment to the activity? That’s what I’m trying to measure. … My belief is that the tone is set at the top of the organization. When they make service a priority, then you see a positive result.” 

Taylor learned the service ethic from her family and has carried it through a 30-year accounting career that began almost by accident—she was talked into applying for her first accounting job by Howard University’s vice president for finance when she was in graduate school. Taylor holds two master’s degrees­—one in taxation and one in international development. She also has two undergraduate degrees­—one in political science and another in accounting. She worked for 17 years at Winston-Salem State University, developing the audit program there before moving to UNC Asheville in 2007. 

“As an auditor, you need to understand accounting, the foundational piece… but I’m a believer that you need a liberal arts background to help you understand more than just number-crunching. You can look for underlying causes so your findings are more useful to management.”