2018 Top 50 Undergraduate Professors: Susan Anderson, Elon University (Love)

Susan Anderson

Professor

Elon University, Love School of Business

For nearly three decades, Susan Anderson has taught taxation. The accounting professor of Elon University’s Love School of Business has been recognized by students and industry alike for her outstanding teaching. This year, the university’s student government board recognized Anderson as the most outstanding educator of the year. Specifically, students highlight Anderson for her service learning approach wherein she has students serve the community by helping to prepare tax returns for local citizens as well as her passion for inspiring curiosity inside the classroom. This year, Anderson was also the recognized as Business Information Professional of the Year by international honor organization for financial information students and professionals, Beta Alpha Psi. She is also a two-time recipient of the teaching innovation award granted by the American Taxation Association and accounting firm Deloitte. In addition to spearheading the business school’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program, Anderson is also credited with establishing its Master of Accountancy offering, a program for which she serves as director. Students say this top professor takes the time to mentor undergraduate researchers and foster their analytical thinking about accounting across a variety of areas such as state taxation and student empathy.

Age: 59

Education: BS and MS in Accounting, University of North Texas; PhD in Accounting, University of Texas at Arlington

At current institution since: 2014

List of courses you currently teach: Individual Income Taxation, Taxation of Business Entities, Issues in Tax Policy, Tax Research, Ethics for Accounting Professionals

Twitter handle: @Satax39

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Coaching a team of students to the finals of a student tax competition for three consecutive years.

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” I was a student in graduate school working on research projects.

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Rough

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am currently examining the effect of a person’s level of empathy on attitudes towards taxation.  So far, I am finding that empathy does not affect attitudes towards tax.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? Traveling with students is always fun.  I learn things about them that I would otherwise never have.  One of my students frequently traveled with a pet iguana, which he would keep in hotel bathtubs.

Since you first started teaching, how has business education changed? When I started teaching, there was no Internet and we did research in the library.  Now we have the ability to have class and do research almost anywhere. Technology has changed how we teach and the types of assignments that we can give.

“If I weren’t a business school professor, I would be…” A practicing CPA

“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a professor”: That your work is never done…

Name of the professor you most admire and why: Debra Grace, Professor at California State University, Long Beach.  She was my dissertation advisor and was always patient and helpful.

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? Their energy.

What’s the biggest challenge? Capturing their attention.

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? I have had several undergraduate students go on to become accounting professors.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Cheat

Since you’ve been teaching, how have students changed over the years? Students used to have more experience with the tax law because they held jobs and went to school.  Now, it seems as if fewer students have worked before they take their tax classes.

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Read, do their homework and make sure they understand what they are doing.

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Fair

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be? The Taxman by the Beatles

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Lazy

“If my students can critically evaluate tax proposals, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have been married to the same man since I was 18 years old.

What are your hobbies? Reading, sewing, and needlework

How did you spend your summer? Working

Favorite place to vacation: Hawaii

Favorite book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Favorite movie and/or television show: The Good Fight

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Dan Fogelberg

Bucket list item #1: Alaska cruise

What’s the biggest challenge facing business education at the moment? There are a multitude of demands competing for business school resources, and not nearly enough resources to go around.

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” Flexibility in counting what is part of a faculty member’s workload.

“And much less of this…” Meetings

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would be like for you: Retirement

Students say…

“Dr. Anderson takes the time to mentor undergraduate researchers and foster analytical thinking about accounting across a variety of areas such as state taxation and student empathy.Dr. Anderson has excelled in her profession, standing out as an educator, researcher and civil servant.”