Monday, June 30, 2008

Walt Blacconiere (Oct 2, 1956 - Mar 4, 2007)

One of our summer interns from last year started work today at Broadcom. He got his MBA degree last month from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Bloomington. I thought about asking him whether he had Prof. Blacconiere for any accounting classes since I remember that Walt went to Indiana after being denied tenure at USC in 1994. A quick search on the Internet turned up this PDF file. Walt had passed away last March from pancreatic cancer.

"Debit = Left; Credit = Right"

I was fortunate enough to have Walt as my MBA core accounting teacher at USC in 1993. I wanted to be a high-tech consultant so the last thing I wanted to learn was accounting. The typical stereotype was that accounting is boring (Intermediate Accounting was boring) but Walt made the classes exciting. Each lecture had a special theme and since you could be cold-called at any moment, a lot of us actually spent time reading the course material before class. It's been close to 15 years since my intro accounting class but I still recall some of his crazy antics. One lecture was titled "Accounting Vices" which was basically about accounting fraud (backdating stock options?!). He had us bring "vices" such as junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, and something else. A student (ex-football player from Cal) brought in a blender and was making margaritas at the back of the class. Here is someone else's blog post about Walt; I can relate to all his class descriptions.

However, during the summer of 1994, we found out that Walt was denied tenure at USC. I think the reason given was that he did not publish enough. I think everyone realizes that you need to publish papers at a research university but it seemed to us that there was not enough consideration for teaching excellence. A lot of students complained to the administration but to no avail. Walt won many teaching awards at USC and continued to win many more at IU. In my 8 years of college, Walt was probably the best professor I ever had. Henry Samueli was pretty good too but at least I understood the accounting course material; digital signal processing, not too much.



Anonymous said...

Sad to hear. my mother had pancreatic cancer as well. unfortunately, it has the worst survival rate. by the time symptoms of the cancer show, it has done too much damage already and usually a diagnosis is a death sentence.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to hear how Walt's teaching style was so innate-- he got better over time, but a rockstar from the very beginning. Please note that the Kelley School at Indiana has more information on the scholarship fund that was established for Walt's three children.

tim said...

Walt's sister was one of my best friends in high school. My condolences to his family.

Anonymous said...

Walt was the man. I think of him often. I feel lucky to have been part of his class at Kelley.

Anonymous said...

As a former student of Walt's I feel sad to hear about his death. He made us ("accounting virgins") laugh in class and actually enjoy accounting. He is the only professor I truly miss after leaving IU 12 years ago.