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Accounting Deanna Mackie. | Madeline Fry

When junior Thomas Mullen’s parents told him to take an accounting class, he warned them the inevitable drop in his GPA would be their fault.

An eco­nomics and applied math double major, Mullen agreed to take accounting — a “very important life skill” according to his parents — and signed up for Prin­ciples of Accounting I with Instructor in Accounting Deanna Mackie, who began her first semester teaching at Hillsdale just as Mullen was starting his foray into the world of financial state­ments and loan amor­ti­zation.  

As Mullen expected, the class was dif­ficult. But it ended in a way that he didn’t expect, all because of Pro­fessor Mackie’s office hours.

“I think during finals week I probably spent three to six hours in office hours with her and changed my grade all the way from a C to a B/B+, which is no credit to me at all,” Mullen said. “It was just her taking the time to break down what was going on and then making sure I got it.”

Mackie, who left a job as financial systems support analyst for Cabela’s, Inc. to become a pro­fessor at Hillsdale last August, has already spent hours with stu­dents outside of class, rehearsing con­cepts like dollar-value LIFO with her stu­dents until they’re con­fident in their knowledge.

“I’d say, ‘I’m having trouble with Chapter 8,’” Mullen said, “and she’d pull out a piece of paper, write ‘Chapter 8’ at the top, and start from the beginning and work all the way to the end to make sure I got the whole thing.”

Sophomore Caylee McComb had a similar expe­rience with Pro­fessor Mackie.

“She met with me every Tuesday morning before class last semester to answer any ques­tions I had and to clarify material I didn’t under­stand,” McComb said. “The one-on-one help ses­sions allowed me to gain a better insight of the course material prior to lec­tures.”

In addition to working in the cor­porate world for years — her first job out of college took her to Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms — Mackie has also spent time teaching at both Uni­versity of Nebraska and Hamilton College in Omaha.

Since she moved to Michigan about eight years ago, she’s been working for Cabela’s from home. Tran­si­tioning to teaching a classroom of college stu­dents, in some ways, is still less frantic than cor­porate finance.

“Ten emails a day is pretty good when you’re used to 10 emails in 10 minutes,” Mackie said.

Sophomore Jackson Frerichs, an accounting major, is taking his second accounting class with Mackie this semester. He said the text­books over­whelm stu­dents with infor­mation, but Mackie’s firsthand expe­rience allows her to point out what’s important to know.

“It’s really nice to have people who have real-world expe­rience, espe­cially for some­thing like accounting that’s kind of tech­nical,” Frerichs said. “We just had a class last week where she was talking about loan amor­ti­zation schedules, and she was saying, ‘This is some­thing you will do a lot in the real world.’”

Frerichs is in Inter­me­diate Accounting II, but of the three classes Mackie teaches this semester, she said Prin­ciples of Accounting is her favorite.

“I call it a ‘lightbulb moment class’ because when a student gets it, there are times you almost lit­erally can see the lightbulb come on,” Mackie said.

In addition to teaching and spending hours tutoring stu­dents in office hours, Mackie is also advising the two student groups the college will send this year to the ACG Cup, an annual case study com­pe­tition that teaches stu­dents the processes of mergers and acqui­si­tions.

Mackie says she enjoys exploring Hillsdale and the sur­rounding area as she drives her children to sporting events. Her husband, David Mackie, is the city manager of Hillsdale. They have three children: Emily, Weston, and Hudson, none of whom have expressed interest in accounting — yet. But, since Hudson is in third grade, she said “it’s too early to tell” if he’ll follow her career.