“The Gators have suffered many painful defeats at the hands of the Dawgs, but none so devastating as the loss of our all–time Hall of Fame best teacher, Dan Smith,” said former CEO of Deloitte & Touche Mike Cook, an alum of the University of Florida, when describing the Tull School of Accounting’s successful recruitment of Professor Dan Smith in the fall of 1991.
Smith, who recently retired at the end of the Fall 2010 semester, lived up to that lofty appraisal, winning the Tull School of Accounting’s Outstanding Teaching Award 11 times during his 18 years at the Terry College of Business.
Smith earned these and other accolades despite employing a rigorous approach for teaching some of the most demanding subjects in the accounting curriculum. Students and faculty frequently credited Smith’s teaching as a significant reason why Terry’s first–time pass rate on the notoriously difficult CPA exam has been two and a half to three times higher than the national average.
“I attribute a larger part of our success on the CPA exam to the way he teaches the intermediate classes,” says Professor Linda Bamber, who says Smith is widely known as a “teacher of teachers”, and has served as a mentor to any of Terry’s current faculty, including experienced colleagues like herself. “Whatever I may have learned about teaching style and philosophy, I learned from Dan. I still ask his advice whenever I have a thorny teaching–related issue. His passion and devotion to students are legendary. Because of this wholehearted way in which he throws himself into each class meeting, I refer to Dan as the Bruce Springsteen of accounting education.”
Smith has also been recognized more than once as Terry College’s Outstanding Teacher, Outstanding Accounting Professor by Alpha Kappa Psi, and as an Honors Day Outstanding Professor. “While Dr. Smith was great in connecting with his students he was even better at making some of the most complex accounting issues seem easy. He accomplished this by taking these topics and relating them to the real world,” says Bill Bishop (BBA & MAcc ’02) of Grant Thornton.
What set Smith apart in the eyes of most of his students was not just his work in the classroom, but the attention that he gave to so many of them outside of it.
“In the four years I spent at UGA and the two years I spent at Harvard Business School, I never had a professor that I respected more than Dr. Dan Smith. One of the things that was most impressive was his dedication to students outside of the classroom,” says Mom Corps CEO Allison (Karl) O’Kelly (BBA ’94). “He was always willing to help his students – every time he held office hours, there was a long line out of his door waiting to see him. In addition, he was instrumental in helping his students secure internships and jobs with accounting firms. It was so obvious that he cared about the success of his students. This really is a rare trait and one that makes him a mentor to me and many of the other students who were lucky enough to have learned from him.”