You may have seen the name Steve Smith on this blog, or you may have talked to him on the phone or met him in person, but let’s take a closer look at the Senior Director and leader of the MPA Program Office with a quick Q&A.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, STEVE.
I’ve been happily married to Stuart (a Texas McCombs BBA grad) for 22 years and am a proud dad of two wonderful kids: Mackenzie, who is in her second year at Northwestern University, and Whit, who is graduating from Anderson High this year. I am a native North Carolinian and enjoy hiking and skiing every chance I get. My undergraduate accounting degree is from NC State, and I hold an MS in Accounting from the University of Virginia. I worked in public accounting with Arthur Andersen and PwC, as well as in industry with Dell.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COME TO UT-AUSTIN?
Stuart and I originally moved to Austin 20 years ago when I entered the accounting PhD program. After one year in the program, I realized it wasn’t for me and went to work at Dell. Luckily, eight years later, Ross Jennings asked if I would teach a section of managerial accounting, and Brian MacDonald (the former treasurer at Dell) gave me the go-ahead. Three months later, I left Dell and have been teaching ever since. I took a leadership role in the MPA program three years ago.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR THE MPA PROGRAM?
I have two main goals for the program: increasing student diversity and developing a stronger MPA community. We can achieve success in regards to diversity with a more proactive marketing effort. As for building community with our current students, I’d like to create more opportunities for students to engage outside of the classroom through activities like tailgates, dinners, trivia nights, and escape rooms. In terms of community for alumni, I’d like to have even more MPA alums stay engaged with the program in the role of mentors to current students and as a resource to help prospective students understand the benefits of an MPA degree.
WHAT MAKES THE MPA PROGRAM DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PROGRAMS?
There are four things that distinguish our program. It starts with our students. We are fortunate that such a densely talented group of students come to Texas McCombs and the MPA program. Second, we have a faculty that is dedicated to both research and teaching; they create a rigorous, relevant, and stimulating academic environment. Third, the MPA Program Office carefully works with each student to develop a degree plan and offers significant amounts of career counseling. Last but not least, we have great relationships with an engaging and diverse group of employers. This enables our MPA students to learn about the many employment options available to MPAs as they launch their careers.
WHAT CLASSES ARE YOU CURRENTLY TEACHING?
I teach ACC 311 (Fundamentals of Financial Accounting) and ACC 312 (Fundamentals of Managerial Accounting). I enjoy being many students’ first professor for a business course and work hard to spark an interest in accounting.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I played racquetball competitively in high school and early on in college. I won two state junior championships and competed at a national level. Some of my longest and deepest friendships began through racquetball. I tried something new this semester and played doubles intramurals with current MPA student Andrew Bramlett. I don’t move quite as quickly as I once did, but we had a blast! Since Andrew is graduating this year, I’ll be looking for a new partner next year.