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Coffee Break with Professor Anton Lewis| Valparaiso University

You may know Anton Lewis, associate professor of accounting, as one of many exceptional educators at the College of Business. We caught up with Professor Lewis for a coffee break and a breakdown of just how he ended up as an accounting professor at Valpo, why he chose to leave his hometown in the UK to come to the U.S., and other great experiences he has had along the way. 

The start of professor Lewis’s interest in accounting began when he was 18 years old.

I basically  went to Hogwarts. My school was a 16th century orphanage, and it was really like Hogwarts with secret passageways and even ghosts. But there was a project that I was required to do: to form my own company and sell the product,” Lewis said. “We did, and we made some money and I realized that I enjoyed doing the accounting bit of it. And I decided that’s what I wanted to do, and that’s where I wanted to go for my undergrad.”

 The rest is (accounting) history, of course. You may be wondering how a proper Englishman came to be a part of Valpo’s esteemed faculty. A list of reasons could account for the transition — our top-rated College of Business, for example. Or our reputation for excellent academics and near perfect placement rates.

 Actually, I came here because I fell in love. I happened to go to a conference in Disney World in Florida during my doctoral studies and when I was there, I met the most unbelievably attractive woman that I have ever seen. And I thought to myself ‘she is stunning,’ and I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do, which was do nothing, say nothing,” Lewis said. “Eventually we managed to get in contact with each other and we sent each other letters. She came and visited England and I came to Chicago. I finished up my doctorate and the decision was made, because we thought we were amazing together, for me not to go into my academic formal career in Britain but to move to the U.S.”

Since his life-changing decision to make the move to the U.S., Professor Lewis has been busy making huge strides in the accounting field. With the creation of his own podcast “Counting White and Black Beans” which discusses general aspects of business and relative matters of diversity in business, Professor Lewis provides himself with a platform to discuss the black experience in accounting. You can also catch him on Lakeshore Public Radio’s Regionally Speaking podcast, which highlights local news-makers and gives space for important dialogues.

And on a more relative scale, Professor Lewis has helped to found the accounting club at Valpo, allowing the University to have a partner in downtown Chicago, which in turn leads to better job placements for our students.

What we have found of late is that there is a huge demand for accountants. If you want a job, accounting is your place,” Lewis said. “And we have had lots and lots of our alums come back looking for Valpo students, specifically to bring in as mid-tier level accountants. Our students work really hard and it’s lovely to see them succeed and get into those big firms.”

 At Valpo, we pride ourselves on what we call the “Valpo difference”. Our faculty want to see our students succeed, and they will do what it takes to help them get thereeven if it means turning them against each other in a competitive marketplace group project, in order to help them understand the foundations of accounting.

 “I make a point of trying to make accounting relatable. I’m a big believer of applying knowledge, so I try to have some form of gamification.” Lewis said.  “In managerial accounting, we do marketplace.com, which is a digital accounting world, and I split them up into groups to make sure I can foster as much resentment within each group as possible because it’s a competition,” Lewis said.  “I have had spies. We have had people moving in and out classrooms trying to figure out strategies. It gets very serious, very quickly. It’s great!”

 The game not only lays out multiple concepts and foundations that students need later on down the line, it also replicates a real-world scenario that places them in charge.

 “The students form a business, then create 3D carbon bikes and they have to sell them. The one who wins gets the most money, and the other team gets the shame of being last. It’s great! The bottom line is if you are going to win you have to understand accounting.” Whoever told you accounting can be boring has obviously never taken an accounting class with Professor Lewis.

 Professor Lewis is an expert in his field and is passionate about his research, which is reflected in the way that he teaches his students. He has been with Valpo for seven years and has a lot of memories to show for it. One of which involved Star Wars and ugly Christmas sweaters.

“I think one of my favorite memories at Valpo must have been three years ago. We did the first Christmas jumper day, and we just got crazy jumpers and wore them and I managed to find my favorite jumper of all time,” Lewis said. “I’m really into sci-fi. I’m a massive fan of Star Wars and so I got the cheesiest jumper with one of the droids on it that would beep. I spent my entire day beeping my jumper to my students and bothering my other colleagues and professors.” Be on the lookout this holiday season, you may have the chance to see the droid in action.

 If you are considering a major in accounting, then Professor Lewis has a few words of advice for you.

 “Any student that wants to be wealthy should study accounting. A lot of people think about accounting and think it’s boring. A good way to think about accounting is to think about it as a language. If you want to be wealthy you need to learn the language of money and that’s accounting. And it’s not boring!” Lewis said.

 If you have some time between classes, you might be able to catch professor Lewis hanging out on the lush green lawn between the Union and the Chapel and you can bring him a cup of coffee to chat. He takes his coffee with milk and he will talk with you about almost anything under the sun.

 I’m a big Marvel fan I will talk marvel with you all day long, I’m a big sci-fi fan, so I will talk to you about that all day. If you want to talk about sci-fi nonsense, or are curious about Britain, or of course want to know more about accounting. I’m here for you.” 

Learn more about our accounting major here.

 

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