Weatherheadlines staff writer Kim Palmer visited Julia Grant, Associate Professor of Accountancy, in her office in the Peter B. Lewis building to talk about being a former adult student, an educator, a grandmother, and most importantly about that Southern accent.
Let’s start with your life outside of work. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in University Circle, and I walk to work. I have three children, all grown, four grandchildren and another one on the way. I’m a lucky grandmother because I get to see my grandchildren a lot.
I’m originally from Arkansas, and I grew to adulthood there, so I never completely lost the accent although my two sisters still live there, and if you heard the three of us together, you would be able to hear a difference.
How long have you been at Weatherhead?
I’m in my 15th year. I came from the Ohio State University where I was also a member of the faculty. I met and worked on research with Rob Bricker, a Professor in Accountancy, there and as a result of that work, was invited to interview here. I really liked Case as soon as I interviewed, but my last child had two more years of high school and my husband couldn’t leave Columbus either, so we ended up commuting for more than five years.
Have you always been in higher education?
My career path was kind of backwards. I married young and had my children, then started college when my youngest was in kindergarten.
I completed my undergraduate quickly partly due to being an adult student and, therefore, being more efficient by necessity. That experience gave me a totally different outlook. I finished the degree and figured I either had to get a job or I could go on to more school. So I went on to get my master’s and doctorate at Cornell.
Can you recall your worst job or one of your worst job experiences?
Worst job experience was before I started my education but after I had children, and my husband and I had restaurants in Tucson. My husband was the manager-owner, but there were three different restaurants, and I ran one of them. That was the worst, not because of the job or working with him, but if he needed to be off, I needed to be covering for him; and if I was off, he had to be on. And if we had problems, they were both of our problems – you just couldn’t get away from it. It is possible that running away from that is what got me into my undergraduate work.
What about your best job experience?
I don’t know one specific time but I can tell you about what keeps me doing what I do. That is getting to witness on a regular basis the ‘ah-ha’ moment -- when a student gets something. That is my favorite thing as a teacher – I love that moment.
A fellow colleague and student of yours told me that you introduced her to yoga: How long have you been practicing?
I’ve been practicing on and off for most of my adult life but I’ve been studying for seven years at the Atma Center, since it opened. I did some teacher training there and did teach some classes there for a while. I like the meditation practices. You become addicted to it, in a good way, when you realize how it centers you.
Is there anyone whom you consider a mentor?
I had some very important professors in graduate school. Because I came to school at a very different (older) age than most of the students, it was a different challenge for me. I came into graduate school with a liberal arts degree, and I was in the business-PhD program. A couple of my professors were willing to take me where I was, as a student, and work with me. I think that was very formative because it helped me develop empathy for how to work with individual students today.
Best stress buster?
Yoga and walking – and my grandchildren, those are my hobbies.
I really don’t watch TV, so I’m a faithful newspaper reader. I also get the Saturday and Sunday New York Times every week. I start with the front page but the second thing I look for is the Magazine, and the first thing that I do is turn to the back and see if there is a good second puzzle. I’m a crossword puzzle aficionado – I do them in ink.
Celebrity you would want to play you in the movie of your life?
I wish Susan Sarandon would play me in the movie. I loved her in that baseball movie. At least her accent is right.
What was the last good book you’ve read or current book you are reading?
I just finished The Preservationist (by David Maine) which is a novelized account of Noah on the Ark. The story is about what it would be like on a poorly constructed ship with a bunch of animals.
I love audio books now. I have been a lifelong, avid reader and there is this whole new dimension that I get out of a book from having them read to me. I just listened to the Kite Runner, (by Khaled Hosseini) which is read by the author, so all of the foreign-language words, that I’m sure my eyes would normally glaze over, were so beautiful. I fell in love with the experience after that book.
What would you ask for if you knew it would be your last meal?
My husband makes the most amazing pasta sauces. They are different every time but he has a repertoire he pulls from regularly. I find myself walking home hoping he made pasta. That and a good bottle of red wine, of course.