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Linfield Magazine #27

Not your traditional The first thing you notice when you approach Mike Jones’ office in T.J. Day Hall is a small sign emblazoned with “CPA Boot Camp.” This former Marine understands the punishing demands of boot camp. And while the CPA version can be grueling, it comes with more encouragement and compassion than most Marine recruits receive. Jones, the Harold C. Elkinton professor of accounting at Linfield, has inspired and encouraged hundreds of students for 36 years. He has earned their devotion and respect and at the President’s Circle dinner in November, Robin (Burmeister) Nichols ’82 spoke poignantly about Jones’ influence on her education and accounting career. (See story on page18) Accounting is a rigorous curriculum and Jones calls intermediate accounting the boot camp of the major. It is the toughest year they face on the road to an accounting degree. “I know it’s a struggle,” Jones said. “If you are going to graduate and become a professional accountant you are expected to have the skills that come with some struggle.” And sometimes tears. While the sign may seem a bit ominous, there’s no shortage of empathy and support in Jones’ office and in the classroom. His bookshelf features a box of tissues, labeled “Intermediate Accounting Only.” Inspired by students Jones draws energy and inspiration from the hundreds of students he has taught at Linfield. He believes those deep relationships are the result of small intimate classes where he and his students work side-by-side. “I have to do the homework problems just like the students,” he said. “And sometimes we work them together. By the end of their coursework, even if we are not good friends, we have struggled through some difficult problems and that makes for an appreciation for each other.” They also astonish and challenge him. In one recent class, a student asked a question far beyond anything they had studied. “I got so excited because I could talk about something that is really interesting to me, that I would not have addressed,” he said. “I knew his brain was working far beyond anything I expected. That inspires me to get the whole class asking those kinds of questions.” Jones constantly looks for teaching methods that will break down complex accounting problems. During a recent class, he and his students were wrestling with a dense array of numbers, dates and other information. They had covered about a third of the information, when Jones said, “We can’t go any further. Can you remember anything of what we just read? Let’s draw a picture.” He diagrammed the data on the board, then he and the students sat back, looked at the material and began to figure out what to do. “Picking it apart and getting the details out there so they didn’t forget them helped us to see all the elements,” he said. “We could dispense with the irrelevant. That’s what we do in accounting.” Thomas Bryan ’13 said Jones will go the extra step to make sure his students understand the material. “He’s a hard teacher, but you really learn the material,” he added. In both intermediate and advanced accounting, Jones encourages students to ask questions as he goes through the material. “He will spend the hour really making sure you know what you need to know,” Bryan said. “The steps in accounting are very detailed and he will spend whatever time you need to make sure you understand it.” Jones believes Linfield accounting graduates are better because of the broad liberal arts education they receive. Mike Jones File At Linfield since 1977 Harold C. Elkinton Professor of Accounting, CPA BA, MBA, University of Oregon The 2013 Edith Green Distinguished Professor “I hope what they take away is that they went through a first-class program in a first-class school and they can do anything.” – Professor Mike Jones 1 6 - l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e Summer 2013


Linfield Magazine #27
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