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Xavier Magazine | April 30, 2017

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Faculty Spotlight

Caroline Purtell

Accounting professor Bill Smith is a numbers man. He’s lived in the same house for 55 years. He’s taught in Alter Hall, Room 324, for 45 years. He’s imparted accounting knowledge to more than 10,000 students. And this spring, Smith commemorates a 50-year teaching career. An undeniably enthusiastic man, Smith started at Xavier in 1956 when Jesuits made up 80 percent of the faculty and the business division operated within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Before the construction of more formal classrooms, he taught an accounting lab in the Armory. “We had no tables,” he says. “And accounting needs to be taught on tables.” Although he only teaches one class now, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m a born teacher, and I’m a damn good one, and the kids still remember me,” he says. “The students are my pride and joy.”

If students told him they wanted to drop out, he simply resonded, “No, you’re not,” and secured scholarships—sometimes contributing his own money—to keep them in school.

When he isn’t teaching, Smith travels around the country with American Legion baseball and referees football, basketball and baseball games, which help him in the classroom. “With me, it is a level playing field,” he says. “Everybody gets treated the same.” Smith finally received his due last year when a 2005 graduate nominated him for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. “It made me feel real good that even the kids today still react to me and encourage me.”

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