Name: Penny Clayton
Title: Professor of Accounting
Courses Taught: Intermediate Accounting I, II and III, Advanced Accounting, CPA Review, Principles of Accounting
Please tell us a brief bio of your career – how long have you taught at Drury, what courses do you typically teach, what are your research interests, what is your educational background, etc.
I’m from Springfield and completed my undergraduate degree in accounting at Missouri State University (then, SMSU). I have an MBA from Drury and a PhD in accounting from Oklahoma State University (Go Cowboys!). I’m a CPA and CFE specializing in financial and fraud accounting. I teach our financial accounting series and, in the past, have taught our fraud examination class as part of the MBA program. My research interests vary but the primary focus is on pedagogy.
As is common with many accountants, I tend to work too many hours during the week but for fun, I enjoy staying active. I competed in fast pitch softball during my youth and continue to provide pitching instruction as time permits. I’m an enthusiastic cyclist and enjoy other types of physical activity as well. Spending time with my niece and nephews is also an important part of my free-time activities.
How does the Breech School of Business prepare students for their professional career?
The Breech curriculum provides a strong core business foundation for our students. The various business degrees are enhanced through the liberal arts foundation offered by the university. In addition, the study abroad experiences broaden students’ global perspectives while the internship requirement allows our students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience prior to graduation. One of my biggest roles as an educator is to help our accounting students make internship connections as well as guide them through the placement process as graduation approaches. Most of our accounting students sign early job contracts and have positions secured months before walking down the aisle at graduation. Once in the market, our alums tend to stay in contact and I also help many who are looking to transition to other firms or companies.
What sets Breech apart from other business schools?
It probably sounds cliché but the personalized education Breech offers truly makes a difference. Breech faculty tend to take the time to know our students. We develop life-long relationships with our graduates. Admittedly, as each year passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay in touch with our accounting graduates but I enjoy following the careers of former students. Many alums send periodic updates, wedding invitations, and baby photos. One of the best parts of my job is the relationships that evolve over the years. I have a digital photo frame in my office and love adding the many updated photos of current students and alums.
Not only do student/faculty relationships develop, but I also think our small class sizes allow students the opportunity to get to know his/her peers – especially during teamwork projects. Only our current or former CPA students can probably relate to this, but seeing a group of students bond together and commiserate while preparing for the CPA exam brings a sense of camaraderie to the process. It warms my heart to see friendships come together and professional relationships build.
Do you have any favorite memories inside the Breech building?
Oh wow. . . that’s a tough one. There have been so many memories. A few years back, Breech recognized and “roasted” Dr. Rohlf when he received the Burlington Northern Professor of Economics distinction. There’s always the daily Breech accounting/econ banter that takes place but getting the chance to emcee Dr. Rohlf’s roast was truly a highlight!
The days when Dr. Wilber Bothwell used to raid my candy basket are also good memories. Breech students are probably familiar with the portrait of Dr. Bothwell, one of the Breech School founders, that hangs in the north stairwell. Well, Dr. Bothwell loved candy and as professor emeritus, he would walk at a Tim Conway, “Old Man Shuffle” in an effort to reach my candy basket. He would eventually make it but it was never a fast process. I used to get the biggest kick out of his daily routine.
Dressing up for Halloween and participating in commencement activities are always great times. And, of course, the best memories are of my students’ faces as they report the news of passing the CPA exam!
What advice would you offer to a new student beginning their course of study in the Breech School of Business?
Well, I think previous Breech profiled faculty have already mentioned this but new students are encouraged to become involved. The period of undergraduate study is truly some of the best years of a person’s life. Become involved and enjoy the experience. Don’t be afraid to speak up in class and get to know your instructors. Take advantage of the personalized environment and spend time with your advisor. Form friendships and study groups with your peers. Graduation day will be here before you know it so don’t miss a single opportunity to get the most from your days at Drury.