Panorama: A lighthearted approach to accounting: Scribner says it’s all about the students

Fall 2008 by Justin Bannister Aggie Panorama

Ed Scribner (photo by Darren Phillips)

Ed Scribner (photo by Darren Phillips)

It’s 6:15 a.m. Monday morning. Many college students will most likely be asleep for another four to five hours. Many college professors are hitting the snooze button on their alarm clocks, dreading the thought of leaving a nice, warm bed. This is the time of day Ed Scribner seizes. He’s ready to start the day strong – out for another invigorating morning run across the campus of New Mexico State University.“It’s more like waddling these days. It used to be running,” says Scribner, a professor in accounting and business computer systems at NMSU. He usually runs (waddles) with his friend and mentor, Ray Mines, a former professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. The two met when Scribner was a math student at NMSU 35 years ago.

He earned a master’s degree in mathematics before heading to Oklahoma State University for his Ph.D. in accounting.

“NMSU was always my favorite university,” he says.

He keeps a poster of the 1960 Aggie football team on the wall of his office – the first and only undefeated football team in the NMSU history. “That cemented my affinity for NMSU.”

Like many professors, Scribner says the best part about his job is teaching. “I enjoy going to class. To me, it’s meeting the students and getting attached to them. I hate to see them go.”

Scribner likes to stay in contact with former students. He estimates “a couple hundred” alums receive his “unauthorized newsletter,” where he keeps everyone up-to-date with the latest happenings in the College of Business and the university.

Among those he stays in regular contact with are more than 40 former students who now work as recruiters, searching for the next batch of accountants fresh out of college. He says a lot of his students will end up in places like Albuquerque and Dallas, where large accounting firms are based.

“Accounting employers seem to really like our students. I think it’s because they are very good, honest,” Scribner says. “Our students have perseverance. They work an amazing number of hours and still make it to class. It makes me tired just thinking about it. Some are raising families too, and still they make it through.”

For many of his students, the affinity is mutual.

“I like Dr. Scribner’s class because he is one of the very few professors who manages to deliver a lecture about accounting with humor,” says Susanne Berger, a senior at NMSU. “His class is really interesting. He is able to interject humor and fun, even in a rather dry topic. He also is able to laugh at himself.”

“I will always remember Dr. Scribner,” says Robert Wharff ’89 ’91, a former student and current certified public accountant who runs his own business in Albuquerque. “Accounting is not the most interesting subject to study, but Dr. Scribner always did an outstanding job. He taught the classes in a manner that made the material easy to understand without making it boring. He has a great sense of humor; dry, just like mine. His door was always open. I knew that if I had a problem with a particular topic, he would be available to help me understand.”

Scribner estimates he’s now taught 75 percent of the classes offered in his department. Even after 26 years, he doesn’t think students have changed all that much.

“There is very little that’s different. They become very professional very quickly. They turn from students in shorts and flip flops to business people in suits amazingly fast. I’m honored to think I have something to do with that,” he says.

Anyone looking to catch up with Scribner can find him during his morning jog around campus, Monday through Thursday, 12 months a year. He starts at the Activity Center. Neither flip flops nor business suits are recommended during the run.

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