Island University Professors Win National Award for Research on Compassion

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Business Professors Dr. Katherine Taken Smith and Dr. Murphy Smith, along with Dr. Hannah Russell, recent Texas A&M Ph.D. grad, and Dr. Don Ariail of Kennesaw State University, Georgia, teamed up to win the Distinguished Research Award for their paper, “Analysis of Compassion in Accounting and Business Students, Overall and by Gender.”

The award was presented at the Institute for Global Business Research Fall Conference. A positive finding of the study is that accounting and business students do highly value compassion.

“Helping students to gain an understanding of accounting issues and to master technical skills are critical to their success in the accounting and business fields,” said Dr. Katherine Taken Smith. “At the same time, educators can assist students by helping them develop character and personal values such as compassion. Being compassionate has a positive impact on a person’s life as well as on others with whom he or she interacts, such as colleagues, customers, investors, people in the supply chain, and others.”

Dr. Murphy Smith looked at the origins of the word “compassion.”

“The etymology of the word ‘compassion’ is derived from Latin ‘pati’ and ‘cum,’ literally ‘to suffer with,’” he said. “Research shows that people with higher levels of compassion have higher life satisfaction and better job performance. Positive consequences associated with higher levels of compassion include kinder treatment of people, high regard for community and environmental issues, and working to alleviate major social ills such as poverty.”

Dr. Russell cited a well-known Biblical story of compassion.

“The religiosity theory of compassion is derived from the premise of a supernatural creator, aka God, who establishes a moral law requiring that people put the needs of others ahead of themselves,” she said. “The moral requirement of compassion has been expressed in many writings. The most well-known religious story about compassion is Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. In the parable, the Samaritan stopped and gave aid, with no expectation of recompense, to a gravely injured robbery victim who was a member of another race, generally regarded as hostile to Samaritans, thereby making the act of aid even more remarkable.”

The authors conclude that compassion is a virtue, which has an impact on a personal level and on society in general. To have a meaningful life, people need to have compassionate concern for others. The authors recommend that educators should discuss compassion with their students, making them aware of its benefit to them personally and to the organizations in which they will work.

Dr. Katherine Smith is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Business. She teaches on the RELLIS Campus. Dr. Smith is a highly published professor with numerous honors and recognitions. Dr. Smith ranks in the top one percent of authors on Social Sciences Research Network based on article-downloads. Google Scholar shows that her work has been cited over 1,900 times. Her research interests include corporate social responsibility, green marketing, and impact of social media on life satisfaction. In spring 2018 she received an Outstanding Author Award and presented her work in the Bell Library Speaker Series.

Dr. Lawrence Murphy Smith is a Professor of Accounting in the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Business. He teaches on the RELLIS Campus. His academic record includes numerous research articles, books and monographs, academic conference presentations, research grants, and awards for teaching and research. He ranks in the top one percent of authors on Social Sciences Research Network ( with over 67,000 article-downloads. Dr. Smith’s research examines ethics, international accounting, and the impact of religiosity on business and society. His work has been reported in various news media, including National Public Radio, Fortune, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Hannah Russell earned her Ph.D. in Agriculture from Texas A&M University-College Station. She is an accomplished researcher and teacher. Her work examines a variety of issues such as GMO foods, agricultural sustainability, gender-related issues, and human trafficking.