Tough. That is the one word used to describe the classes of accounting professor David Pearson, a winner of the Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. It is a one-word description used not only by his students, but also by the man himself.
"As a teacher, I guess I'm somewhat notorious for being tough, but that's one of my goals," Pearson said. "I want the students to work hard, participate in class and be challenged in order to learn and succeed."
It's being able to accept those challenges and succeed in the classroom that the professor for the practice of accountancy's students say helps them prepare for their careers following graduation.
"Professor Pearson is well-known for his hard classes, demanding homework, tough exams and transparent teaching," his nominator said. "However, everyone who has had him and goes out into the working world attests that what they learned in his class is invaluable. The specific details might not be memorable, but the skills of problem solving and attempting problems that at first look impossible is what counts."
A faculty member at the Weatherhead School of Management since January 1999, Pearson has instructed every accounting major at Case Western Reserve University at some point over the last eight years.
"A lot of my satisfaction comes from seeing the really good students excel in the classroom and then go on to great careers in the working world," he said. "Seeing students develop their skills, both in accounting practices and communicatively, and watching them grow up—it motivates me to do a good job."
After a 34-year career in public accounting, Pearson decided to share what he had learned in over three decades in the profession and go into teaching because he "wasn't ready to retire."
It's those experiences that really draw the interest of the students, according to his nominator who said "(Professor Pearson) comes to the academic arena with a lifetime of experiences and is always open to share real life applications of what he is lecturing."
One of those real life applications is Pearson's current staff position with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in Washington, D.C. He has worked for the board, which oversees the auditors of public companies to protect the interests of investors, since May 2003.
"I have really loved that job," Pearson said of the work that takes him to the nation's capital for two days and 45 weeks a year. "It fits really well with teaching because there is a lot of carryover from the classroom to Washington, and vice versa. I can talk about things discussed in meetings to the class hypothetically and show them how it applies to the real world."
Pearson earned a bachelor's degree in business as well as both his MBA and DBA from Indiana University in Bloomington.
The Wittke Award was established in 1971 in honor of Carl Wittke, a former faculty member, dean and vice president of Western Reserve University. Each year it is presented to two Case faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in undergraduate teaching.
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