Credit where credit is due: Accounting professor Christine Smith provides students with the right assets to succeed

Christine Smith, a professor of practice in the accounting department, poses in the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex.

Photo Courtesy of A.B. Freeman School of Business

Christine Smith, a professor of practice in the accounting department, poses in the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex.

Sitting in Christine Smith’s class is like watching a movie in 3D — active, engaging and, at times, overwhelming. Where other classrooms may ascribe to — or even rely on — a sense of static in which students passively absorb a lecture while following along with the professor’s powerpoint, Smith’s classroom is a stage where she sings the praises of introductory accounting with relentless enthusiasm.

“It starts with a very deep-rooted belief that I can’t possibly expect my students to get more excited — equally or more excited — about the content than I am,” Smith said.

Photo Courtesy of Christine Smith
Smith stands with her husband and sons, aged 9 and 11.

If it feels like Smith is as much as performer as she is a professor, it is likely because it is true. Before becoming a professor of practice at Tulane, Smith walked its halls as an undergraduate and earned her degree in music. After taking some time to pursue her passions for musicology and singing, Smith ultimately knew she wanted to become an accountant, a path she resisted initially, despite the fact she seemed destined for it.

Smith’s father, Beau Parent, was a Tulane accounting faculty member for almost 40 years. In that time, he not only started the school’s Master’s in Accounting program, but he also instilled his enthusiasm for accounting and energetic teaching style into his daughter. Smith accompanied her older sister to Parent’s lectures at age 11, and the material immediately clicked.  

“I had a wonderful person in my father model the passion for me, and I think I had just a natural aptitude,” Smith said.

After working in accounting for many years across various industries, from gaming to healthcare, both internationally and New Orleans-based, Smith started as a professor at Tulane, allowing her the unique opportunity to work alongside her father. The two even co-wrote a textbook, “Keeping Score and Reporting It: The Accounting Cycle,” that is used in her financial accounting courses.

“As a professor of practice, you know, I have done for a living and put food on the table doing what I’m going to teach you now,” Smith said. “And so I think that that just brings a whole different dimension to the student experience.”

Photo Courtesy of Christine Smith
Smith and her husband visit Fort Walton Beach in Florida over the first weekend in August.

The unbridled excitement and experience she offers regarding the subject matter is matched only in her enthusiasm to help students.

After Parent’s death in 2014, Smith took over as the head of the five-year Master’s in Accounting program. In addition to the nearly 270 students she teaches in class, she also oversees all the Master’s students. She acts as an advisor, arranging busy season internships — which almost always result in post-graduation job offers — and helping ensure CPA eligibility based on state-specific requirements. Creating tailored plans for each student is time consuming, but Smith says it’s rewarding to see their success.

In the classroom, Smith is larger than life. Teaching a core class for the business school connects her with many students who may not have an interest in accounting, but her charmingly erratic and impassioned teaching leaves an impact nonetheless.

“I’m a huge believer that we are all uniquely gifted,” Smith said. “And part of what this whole liberal arts education is about is exploring, especially in those first couple years, finding the subjects and concepts that really light you on fire.”

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