Dr. Leslee Higgins Associate Professor, Accounting
Bobcat Quick Hit:
Favorite Author: John Steinbeck
Favorite Movie: "Gone With the Wind"
Favorite Quote: "A picture is worth a thousand words."
If you could have a dinner party with two people, living or dead, who would it be? And why? "Rene Descartes, to discuss mathematical concepts and theory, and John Calipari, so my husband could happily talk about University of Kentucky basketball."
The winding path to St. Thomas University took Dr. Leslee Higgins all across the United States.
Dr. Higgins earned a BA in mathematics from the University of California Santa Barbara, an MBA from the University of Louisville, and a PhD in accounting from the University of Cincinnati. After working in the accounting field, she changed careers and taught high school math for two years before moving on to higher education.
Dr. Higgins taught at Georgia Southern University (1998-2010) and Eastern Kentucky University (2010-2015) before joining the Gus Machado School of Business faculty at STU in 2015. "I really wanted to work with students," she said. "I felt teaching was a calling. I wanted to get the points across to them. I had an accounting professor during my MBA who loved accounting, but he was not the best professor. I knew I could do better than that."
At STU, Dr. Higgins teaches the Fraud Examination, Forensic Accounting, and Advanced Accounting Information Systems courses in the online MBA program.
Q: What will students learn in each online MBA course that you teach?
A: In the undergraduate Accounting Information Systems course, the most important concepts students will learn are about business processes and internal controls. In the graduate Accounting Information Systems course, they take all of that knowledge and apply it to computer-based systems, and they learn about database design.In the Fraud Examination course, students learn about different fraud techniques that are perpetrated and how to prevent and detect them. In the Forensic Accounting course, we look at how to collect evidence of a fraud occurrence, how to analyze the evidence, how to determine whether it will be applicable in court and how to testify in court.
Q: What advice do you have for the online learner?
A: Make sure that you are staying up to date and not falling behind. Make sure that you are doing all of your reading so that you have a wealth of knowledge to apply to any assignments given.
Q: How do you stay connected to your distance learners?
A: We have a platform to make announcements. I often make multiple announcements, and I encourage students to let me know if they do not understand a concept or procedure—because they are probably not the only one who does not understand. … I really appreciate when a student tells me there is something he or she does not understand so that I can re-emphasize it in a different way.
Q: Do you think your online learners differ from your face-to-face learners? If so, how?
A: I think online courses help learners who might not speak out in a classroom. Students are not reticent about speaking out online—they will post comments more readily.
Q: When the adult learner brings professional experience to the classroom, does it impact or change your teaching? If so, how?
A: I love when adult learners bring their own professional experience to the classroom. We have a large number of adult learners, both on campus and online, who can apply their work experience to course discussions. It really helps that they have already seen how a business process works and are able to discuss the pros and cons about what their company does versus the procedures we are discussing in class. It is always interesting to go from an overall viewpoint to application to a particular company.
Q: What are some of your career highlights?
A: I received a teaching award and a Professor of the Year award at Georgia Southern University. Being recognized by my students and my peers was an honor.