Faculty Q&A: Dr. Milo Peck

Submitted by Carolyn Arnold, Associate Director, Marketing & Communications on December 10, 2012

For over twenty years Dr. Milo Peck Jr., assistant professor of accounting, has taught undergraduate and graduate students the ins and outs of accounting. He’s famous among alumni for his popular Monopoly accounting game and who could forget his vast collection of bow ties!

Dr. Peck received his undergraduate degree at Middlebury College, his Masters in accounting from Northeastern University his J.D., at Suffolk University and LL.M. from Boston University and is a certified public accountant and attorney licensed in Massachusetts.   In 1994, he received the Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year honor, an award that is given out based on student recommendations. It is an honor that he says was the most significant in his life after his marriage and the birth of his children.

Before teaching at Fairfield he worked in many fields of business including public accounting, banking, securities industry and financial management. He’s run for and served in public office and worked on the boards of many nonprofits.

Dr. Milo Peck officiating at Brendan Drew and Stephanie Sudham’s wedding.

1.   Why did you want to teach?

I had a great run working in business and a very full professional career and wanted to do something else meaningful. I got my undergraduate degrees from Middlebury in history with a minor in religion and got an education certificate because I wanted to coach basketball and back in those days you had to teach to be able to coach.

I started teaching in June 1990 and got involved with some of the service-oriented projects right away. Winston Tellis asked me if I would take some students down to Prospect House to help prepare and serve food to the people staying there and I thought it was important to do that with my students. I think the greatest influence you can have on a student is showing them how to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. By working together we created that closeness that I really wanted to achieve by coming here and teaching at Fairfield.
2.   What are some of the stereotypes about getting an education in accounting?

I’ve had students say to me, “Dr. Peck, I just don’t think I can be an accountant and just sit behind a desk doing entries.” And I say, “I’ve represented pro-athletes, handled mergers and acquisitions, sold and bought businesses, done negotiations. That’s what being an accountant is.” Students sometimes equate accounting with bookkeeping, but it’s a skilled position and you know the whole story of the company and help drive the team.
3.   Tell us about your Full Contact Monopoly project

I teach Intermediate Accounting and created “Full Contact Monopoly,” which is an active learning module that provides students with transactions and events, which are journalized and then used for the financial statement package that is prepared by students. Each student decides what type of service their business provides and they can get very inventive.

What I’ve found with Fairfield students is that they look at the Monopoly project as a springboard to reach the stars. Once I started assigning this and seeing what they came up with, I was amazed at their creativity.

I like to come up with games and activities to illustrate what makes accounting fun and my colleagues and I match it to accounting criteria for outcomes. One of the things we want with the outcomes is to see students’ perceptions and abilities of financial accounts before and after Full Contact Monopoly. I’ve worked on this with my good friend Dr. Patricia Poli, associate professor of accounting, who uses it in her graduate courses, and Dr. Paul Mihalik , associate professor at Central Connecticut University. My research is more in the application area and how to solve a problem or to apply skills in a fun way. I am a former elementary school teacher after all.
4.   How has Beta Alpha Psi (Accounting Honor Society) grown over the years?

Dr. Poli, Professor Drusbosky and I are proud of the active membership of the honor society. We wanted it to be like Alpha Sigma Nu (The Jesuit Honor Society) and have all members be involved and have an impact on society. We bring speakers of import to illustrate the professions from many different firms and want them to comment on all walks of travel in their long careers

We want to train our students to be future leaders. They must be active members and do civic projects, assist in events, or do unpaid tutoring. I think that as we walk through life it shouldn’t be about what life provides you, but what you provide others.
5.   You teach in the Master’s of Science in Accounting program. How does that program prepare students for careers?

We’ve got an extremely successful program at Fairfield and there’s a lot of demand for it. Back when I was in school the world was smaller and not as global. The amount of material that you need to know today to be successful is so vast that the road licensure is both difficult and challenging. By the time students leave here and graduate they’ll have taken and passed some or all of the CPA exam and are ready to begin their jobs…and in accounting, your career can’t really begin until you’ve passed the exam and have it in your rear view mirror.
6.   Do you keep in touch with many of your former students?

Yes. It’s one of the most satisfying things to keep up with students and see how they did later. There’s one student who I’m still in touch with who we say “got his degree in Peck.” He holds the record of seven courses with me in both his graduate and undergraduate degrees. I normally never teach freshmen, but I did once as an overload course, which he was in.

There’ve been a number of sibling groups that I’ve taught and I call them legacy students, like the Cooks, Griffins, Smiths, and Sauvignes. It’s very family-like. I’ve been to a number of weddings and christenings over the years. I’ve been to too many funerals and wakes, but you do that because we’re all family.

Last year two of my students, Brendan Drew and Stephanie Sulham contacted me to tell me that they were getting married and said, “That’s not all. We want you to perform the ceremony!” I’m an attorney so you can apply to the governor for the forms to officiate a wedding. It was a beautiful wedding on Cape Cod and a lot of Fairfield graduates were part of the wedding too.
7.   You’re famous on campus for always wearing bow ties. How did that begin?

When you’re a tall person you need to find extra long ties, but a bow tie always fits! And they sort of fit my personality. Walt Ryba (former Dean of the Dolan School) used to rib me about it all the time. Every day that I’m down here I wear a bow tie and we all get a laugh out of it including me, because you should always be able to laugh at yourself.

People come up to me and say, “You must be Dr. Peck.” Not because I’m the tallest guy with red hair but because I’m the guy with the bow tie! And I have some for every occasion – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Election Day, St. Patrick’s Day; I even have one for the Boston Red Sox. I get most of them from Beau Ties LTD. of Middlebury, Vermont. People often give me them as gifts and some are really special. One time I got one [from the officers of Beta Alpha Psi] with monopoly money on it.

In the summer I don’t wear a bow tie but students kept asking me where they were so now I wear one on the first day and announce that this is the one and only time you’ll see me in one until the fall.
8. What is the most important thing you can impart to your students?

I tell my undergraduate students that it’s my job to train their minds. It’s their job to learn accounting. I’m going to train their minds because the Jesuit ideal is for lifelong learning so when you leave here and you’re presented with a situation you’ll be able to work your way to the correct answer whether it’s financial, professional, or ethical.

I’ve gotten to do a lot of things over the years and it’s made me a better person, but in the end, it’s not about me. It’s about what we do for others. Both of my parents served in the military in World War II and they understood service and imparted that to me. I’ve always said that working at Fairfield satisfies the Jesuit idea in terms of life-long learning and service. Where else could you get a better job?

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