WEB EXTRA: Accounting professor highlights the fun of profession

When Accountancy Associate Professor Larry Singleton finds a few students shaking in their seats on the first day of class, he said it’s due to fear of the material covered in class, not fear of the professor teaching the class.

“It’s not unusual to see just a couple of students’ knees shaking because they’re so afraid of accounting,” said Singleton, who sees it as his duty to calm students’ fears of accountancy. “If you can make it fun and interesting to learn, it goes over much better.”

Originally from Louisiana, Singleton came to GW in the mid 1980s on the recommendation of a cousin who lived in the area.

“Oh, you’ve got to try GW, you have got to live in Washington for awhile,” Singleton recalled his cousin saying. “I thought I’d be at GW for three or four years, and (instead) I’ve been here for 20.”

Singleton teaches financial accounting and managerial accounting courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. To Singleton accounting is a practical discipline.

“If you can break it down and show (students) the big picture of what’s happening … it makes it easier … to understand. If you let it be hard, it’ll be hard. If you let it be easy, it’ll be easy,” Singleton said of his teaching philosophy. “I believe accounting is great fun.

Students and national groups have commended Singleton’s work in the classroom. He was awarded the prestigious award for Best Professor 2005-2006 by GW’s Alexandria Accelerated Master’s of Business Association program, was recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2004 as one of its Annual Conference Top Ten Speakers, and was the recipient of the Outstanding Accounting Professor Award by Beta Alpha Psi, a national professional accounting fraternity, in 2000.

Prior to joining the GW faculty, Singleton taught at Louisiana State University where he also obtained his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctoral degree in accountancy. He has also taught in France and China.

One of Singleton’s notable side projects include the “Accounting Treasure Hunt,” a one-day seminar he teaches through his company, Singleton Associates, LLC. In 2001, the seminar was even featured in the Washington Business Journal.

Singleton has advised clients such as America Online, Inc., Cisco Systems, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the NASDAQ Stock Market and the World Bank.

Singleton said companies share their financial records with him in order to review and advise chief financial officers.

“I tailor a version of (my) seminar to fit their financial statements … to make it very custom to the company,” Singleton said.

At the university level, Singleton said he uses his seminar to share real world experience with his students.

“I bring all that stuff back to my classes (and) I can tell them what’s going on because so many of our students will go to work for companies like (the one’s I consult for) when they graduate.”

2006 graduate Sarah Masoom took an intermediate accounting class with Singleton in fall 2005 and described Singleton as one of the best professors she has ever had.

“Instead of just crunching numbers, Professor Singleton endeavored to apply what we learned in class to the real world,” Masoom wrote in an e-mail last week. “Therefore, I was not only able to learn how to apply certain concepts, but I also learned when and why I would apply what I learned in the future.”

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