After living and working in Seattle, New York, and Ohio, Jon Kerr—a brand-new School of Accountancy professor, tax law fanatic, and part-time beekeeper has circled back to BYU—the place where his family and his dreams of teaching began.
Kerr grew up in the Seattle area and later earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting from the BYU Marriott School of Business. Kerr was inspired by his uncle, a BYU Marriott accounting professor at the time, whose exceptional teaching and love for his students planted a seed for Kerr’s future research and teaching career. Passionate about tax law and ambitious to learn, Kerr applied and was admitted to multiple law schools. “I always thought my route would be as a law professor of tax law, but when my wife and I found out we were having a baby, we decided it would be best for me to start working in an accounting firm and come back to it later,” Kerr says.
Kerr began working for accounting firm Grant Thorton LLP in Seattle to provide for his growing family. Although Kerr was close to his hometown and working a stable job, he couldn’t ignore his desire to teach and spend more time with his family, especially during the long-hour shifts of tax season.
Kerr decided to move his family to the heart of New York to earn a doctorate of accounting at Columbia University. Then Kerr taught and researched for four years at Baruch University. While teaching, he continued to research tax law, allowing him to travel with students to present his findings across the United States. Kerr grew to love collaborating with others who were dedicated and passionate about their work.
Even though being a professor was hard work, Kerr was able to find more time to spend with his family. However, after teaching for a few years, his family had outgrown the small apartments of New York City. So Kerr accepted a teaching position on the green landscape of Ohio State’s campus. In Ohio, Kerr continued to flourish while seeking a better balance between teaching and his family life. “Since we had been confined to the city life for so long and now had land, I started pursuing agricultural hobbies like beekeeping and eventually selling honey.”
Beekeeping wasn’t an individual effort. Kerr’s six-year-old daughter was fascinated by beekeeping and honey. “We decided to work out a business deal,” Kerr explains. He sold his honey jars to his daughter and allowed her to markup the price and sell to buyers. “We attracted really good business with our little stand, and my daughter and I loved it,” Kerr says.
“After five years of teaching and beekeeping in Ohio, we felt it was time to be close to family again,” Kerr says. “We had been a five-hour flight away from family for over 10 years, and both my parents and my wife’s parents were older. It was past our time to return.” So, when an accounting faculty position opened up at the BYU Marriott, he applied.
Teaching at BYU has been a great fit for Kerr and an opportunity for him to give back. Although this is his first-year teaching tax law at BYU Marriott, Kerr says the student body and Christ-centered learning are already fulfilling pieces of his teaching career. “The students here are phenomenal—high achievers and so capable,” Kerr says. “I love that I can talk about gospel topics along with my lectures.”
As he continues his professorial career, Kerr is grateful to be back in the place where his own family and dreams of teaching began. And with teaching and researching accounting and tax law, Kerr is excited to resume his beekeeping here as well.
Written by: Alice Gubler