By Lacie Blankenship
Scott Johnson, new Faculty Director of the Vanderbilt Master of Accountancy (MAcc) Program and Associate Professor of the Practice of Accounting, empathizes with MAcc students as he takes the baton from his former professor, Karl Hackenbrack.
“Joining Owen is a great opportunity to do a little bit more of what I enjoy, more administrative work and with more focus on students; I love the close contact with students,” said Johnson.
Johnson got his first degree from the University of Florida in telecommunications. He worked as a sports broadcaster until he craved a change of pace and explored real estate appraisal, which inspired a return to the University of Florida to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. He first met Hackenbrack in pursuit of his master’s, which he completed in 1998.
Johnson began his accounting career with Deloitte in Atlanta, eventually moving back to Florida, where he worked in land development.
The housing bust eventually inspired a return to education. With encouragement from his wife, Johnson decided to head to the University of Arkansas for his PhD. Following his 2013 graduation, Johnson taught at Virginia Tech for 8 years before moving to Vanderbilt.
Johnson’s path to Vanderbilt almost felt like destiny. With previous connections to Hackenbrack, who started the MAcc program in 2002, and an Arkansas classmate, former Vanderbilt accounting professor Mike Stuart, Johnson already knew some of the appeals of Vanderbilt.
“They’re doing something right here because they’re getting outstanding students through the program in a year, and the Big Four accounting firms are just waiting at the door to get their hands on the graduates. From that perspective, being the Faculty Director of such a unique and successful program was kind of too much to pass up,” said Johnson.
Johnson has a special appreciation for the origin of the MAcc program at Owen. He recognizes the uniqueness of Hackenbrack’s vision with non-accounting majors to be able to learn what they need to know to pass the CPA exam and get a job with a top firm. He wishes the Vanderbilt MAcc program had existed when he was studying accounting, “because it’s only a year, with no accounting background.”
From his beginning experience in journalism to his dappling in real estate, it is obvious that Johnson’s journey to accounting was not straightforward; that’s one of the reasons why he fits as the new Faculty Director of the MAcc Program.
Johnson has an eagerness; to work with Vanderbilt students and faculty, and he recognizes that there are “not many programs like this in the country that are exceptionally successful at placing students and getting them through.”
Also, in Johnson’s words, “Nashville never hurts, right?”