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Professor's Diverse Professional Background Aids Student Learning

Before heading to campus to teach in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, Dr. Henry Smith can be found in his barn working with his performance reining quarter horses. On the weekend, he might be in the woods off-roading with his Hummer, or enjoying a spin in his ’06 blue Dodge Viper convertible. Smith’s wide-range of interests provide a strong foundation as he prepares business leaders through Otterbein’s MBA program.

After serving for 22 years in the Army’s Special Forces as a lieutenant colonel and teaching at Texas A&M International, Smith joined Otterbein to teach accounting. He led the establishment of the Fraud Examination Concentration in the MBA program. This program and its students earned national recognition when their case study was published in two different articles in The Fraud Magazine in 2012. 

Professor Smith guides his fraud and advanced accounting students through case studies by asking the question “How can we do this?” He encourages students to share challenges from their own places of employment, so that the class can work together to propose solutions. Smith enjoys teaching graduate students because they are “motivated and fun to be with. They know where they are trying to go.”

In the last few years, Smith wanted to improve student learning and began integrating classroom and computer-based interaction by teaching blended courses in management accounting. He noted that student’s grades went up significantly with online practice.

“I like meeting students in class, getting to know them, explaining the concepts and then allowing them to do the work online. I also teach a technology-intensive advanced accounting class, in which the online work provides total freedom, without penalty, to apply previously learned concepts and techniques in solving problems,” Smith says.  He also noted that feedback from students is overwhelmingly positive. “Across the board, they tell me that they feel free to make mistakes and they learn from one another. They like the structure because it prepares them for the real world.”

Smith’s professional experience helps to create his classroom approach. “While I was in the service, I did a lot of logistics work- I know the environment. I am not an academic. I can offer a lot of suggestions and advice from my background. I understand the field, and I have the background experience that makes a tremendous amount of difference in how I teach.”

Lucky students get to hear about some of Smith’s experiences, including his accounts of uncovering corporate fraud, traveling the European Audubon at speeds of 135-plus mph in his new Mercedes Benz, serving as the President and CEO of the International Hummer Club, and training horses to follow reining commands.