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Marc Smith: King of Accounting

If you’re a student in Fisher, then you’ve almost certainly heard the name Marc Smith. Professor Smith, the lead lecturer of the introduction to accounting courses, seems to have perfected the art of teaching accounting. Funny and charismatic during his interview, Smith recently sat down with Fisher Ink to talk about accounting, his classes and why he thinks Fisher is one of the top business schools in the country.

Smith actually began his undergraduate experience at a far different institution than the one he teaches at now. Smith spent his undergraduate years at Westminster College in western Pennsylvania, where only about fifteen hundred students are currently enrolled. Smith began college believing he would then go on to become a lawyer. When he began to have second thoughts about this career choice, he decided he would give accounting a try.

“What’s really funny is when I took what would’ve been the equivalent of Accounting 2200, which was my first accounting class my first semester freshman year, it was miserable. It made no sense; I had all sorts of trouble understanding how to do it. And there must have been one heck of a curve…I just didn’t feel good about it,” Smith says.

Come second semester, Smith admitted that it “just clicked” and he’s stuck with accounting ever since. Though he says he does prefer teaching accounting to working as an actual accountant.

“It’s really rewarding to be 100% honest. For as much as our students gray my hair, I would say our Fisher students really are outstanding. In my opinion, a student doesn’t have to earn an A in a course to have done a good job… Not everyone is good at everything. But I believe that the vast, vast majority of our students want to learn, want to do well and do put in effort. And I think that’s a real compliment to Fisher,” Smith says.

While everyone in Fisher must take the two introductory accounting courses, and one course if they are a business minor, some may say that accounting isn’t especially relevant to their particular specialization. However, Smith argues that accounting knowledge is, in fact, helpful to all business students, no matter what specialization they are.

“I don’t want to sound cliché or bookish, but if you Google ‘accounting,’ what you’ll come up with is ‘the language of business.’ And it really and truly is,” Smith says. “The other thing that you get in accounting…is problem-solving skills. And that’s a big part of accounting.”

Besides the actual content itself, the structural nature of Smith’s accounting classes has also become increasingly well known among Fisher students. This structure includes spending hours behind a computer screen watching the weekly video lectures, and then going to in-person recitations with Smith and fellow TAs. This structure in particular, especially the weekly videos, is a format that’s been a long time coming. Since 2003, in fact.

“Our old accounting chair, Dick Dietrich, said back in 2003 or 2004, ‘let’s create some online content.’ Back then, it wasn’t common. It was very early, it had a lot of pushback, and it took some time to evolve,” Smith says.

And though students of today are more than familiar with using the internet and technology as an aid in their business classes, Smith acknowledges that this was not necessarily the case for students when the video lectures first began.

“The students of today are different from the students of 2003. But every time you do something and something new, you have to expect that there will be some bumps,” Smith says.

14 years later, the video lectures are still going strong, and are even redone every couple of years. In fact, Accounting 2000, 2200 and 2300 are now in the works to be re-filmed. Some of the new videos will be rolled out this coming summer. The videos are filmed at a studio in Mason Hall with the help of Fisher Technical Services.

When it comes to life outside of teaching young minds the art of accounting, Smith says that he likes to spend time with his 13-year-old dog, Zoey.

“She’s a spoiled little baby…but she’s unbelievably sweet,” laughs Smith.

And when it comes to accounting class secrets, Smith reveals in his interview the true identity of the one and only Betty DeRose, who is often mentioned as a business owner of various companies in accounting word problems.

“It’s my grandmother! You know, I have no idea what prompted me to start that. It literally makes no sense. I just did and never really stopped,” Smith laughs. “She doesn’t like it. She says, ‘I don’t want my name out there!’”

A former Ohio State student himself—he received his masters degree in accounting from Ohio State—Marc Smith reflected on the best thing about Fisher in a favorable way, as a student and as a lecturer.

“The students, because they are fantastic…but also, what I like about Fisher is it’s got a fantastic reputation and they take seriously what they do. They care about the students. Very much. They also care about academics,” says Smith. “It’s a small group and part of a very large place. When you are here, you know almost everybody. It’s a small school environment at a large university.”