CoB Alumnus Honors Father with Accounting Scholarship

December 31st, 2012

John D. Hertz is a local boy who grew up in Bozeman, played high school football and ran track for the Bozeman Hawks, and enjoyed skiing at Bridger Bowl. John stayed in Bozeman to continue his education at Montana State University (MSU), where he earned his business degree with honors (Acct ’89).

His time at MSU prepared him well for a career in accounting. The accounting faculty made a big difference for him. John remembers Christie Johnson as his favorite professor. He said that she was very effective at teaching the concepts and that he understood everything by just listening to her lectures. “She had high standards, but was very interested in the success and progression of her students.”

John began his accounting career with KPMG, a U.S. audit, tax and advisory services firm, where he worked as an auditor for 11 years, first in Texas, and then for seven years in the Portland, Oregon office, before being selected for a two-year rotational program at the national KPMG office in New York City. When John was selected for a two-year term as Practice Fellow at the Financial Accounting Standards Board in Norwalk, Connecticut, he gained further valuable business experience. He further expanded his business knowledge through positions with Intel and Novellus Systems, before landing a job with Clearwater Paper.

Now an accomplished businessman, a Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer at Clearwater Paper, John wanted to find a way to honor his father, Dr. Daniel G. Hertz, who was a long-time accounting professor in the College of Business (CoB) at MSU. He also wanted to support the CoB as a way to give back to the institution where he received the education and opportunities that led to his successful business career. John and his wife, Corey, found the perfect opportunity to honor his father, and just in time for Christmas, when they established a CoB accounting scholarship, named for his father.

“Dad spent almost his entire career at MSU, so what a way to both honor his many contributions to the College of Business and allow me to give back in a way that will help future students get an MSU education and have the same opportunity with that MSU degree that I had,” explained John.

The Man Behind the Name

Dr. Hertz, now retired, spent 32 years at MSU, from 1968-2000. He began his academic career teaching accounting courses and was involved with the business education program. With the elimination of the business education program, he joined the accounting faculty, and over the next 16 years, he coordinated and taught managerial accounting and principles of accounting courses. The last seven years of his tenure, he was the coordinator of the Masters of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) program, as well.

Dr. Hertz thoroughly enjoyed his time teaching at MSU and remembers many of his students, which he keeps in contact with through Alumni Association gatherings. Three of his students at the CoB became some of his son’s favorite teachers at Bozeman High School, Peggy Ross, in accounting; Carol Perlinski, in typing; and Scott MacDonald, in accounting and P.E. Dr. Hertz said it was always interesting to get to know former students’ children, who also attended MSU. Over the years he said, “I have been impressed with the caliber of students in the College of Business.”

Importance of Education

Dr. Hertz learned education’s importance from his mother, who was his first teacher during grade school in North Dakota. “She instilled the importance of education, and I have become a life time learner,” he said. Graduating from college in North Dakota in 1960, Dr. Hertz took his first job in Montana as the business teacher at Powell County High School in Deer Lodge. He received his master’s degree in business from the University of Wyoming in 1966 and completed his doctoral degree in 1972.

Dr. Hertz describes these times as tough years, trying to make ends meet with two young children while teaching adult education classes in the evening, and working the combine at the family farm in North Dakota, after summer session ended. “College costs are considerably higher now than they were then, so I am aware of how the availability of scholarships will enable good students to continue their college education, explained Dr. Hertz. “This scholarship is impressive to me, as it will encourage the excellent students enrolled in the CoB to continue on with their accounting curriculum. As an endowment scholarship, this money will be available for future generations, and it will be interesting to follow these students as they complete their degrees and go on in their accounting and/or business careers.”

Giving Back

After working with the MSU Foundation to establish the Daniel G. Hertz Scholarship, John and Corey had a “certificate of recognition” framed and wrapped for his father as a Christmas present. His parents spent Christmas in Arizona, so John did not witness the unveiling of the gift first-hand. His father described the exact moment he opened the present: “My reaction was –WOW!, Really, Son! John, what have you done?!” Dr. Hertz said that he was so surprised with the gift and felt very honored that his son would do this for him, in recognition of his many years teaching at MSU. “I am so very proud that he has chosen to give back to MSU in this way,” Dr.Hertz said.

When asked what inspired him to give back to the CoB, John described it as a confluence of many different things: “I truly loved my years at Montana State, the campus, the professors, the students, the location, everything. There was also the strong education that MSU provided, which gave me the foundation to go out and have a very interesting, challenging, and successful career.”

In addition, the desire to give back to MSU was a motivating force for John. He explained, “I have always felt that I’d like to give back to MSU in some significant way. I have been fortunate with the way my career has progressed thus far, and I now have the ability to act on that desire to give back. Then, combine that with an ability to honor my father, who spent almost his entire career as an accounting professor, and this scholarship opportunity couldn’t be more perfect.”

Advice for Students

From the perspectives of both a professor and alumnus, the Hertz’s have some important advice for current CoB students:

Dr. Hertz would recommend that students “get their minds made up about completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in 5 years, if possible. Don’t string it out, because too many students don’t finish.” He also advises students to “look at what is available to them upon graduation, early in their college careers.” He reminds students, “the accounting department always has recruiters paying top dollar for CoB graduates” and cautions students that they “cannot expect to start out as CFO, but with diligent work in the early years, promotion opportunities certainly are there.” He also mentioned the importance of student exchanges and encouraged all students to participate, whether the exchange is national or international.

John also contributed valuable advice: “Pick a subject area that you feel passionate about and always push and challenge yourself. Also, college should be one of the most fun times of your life…while you need to focus and work hard, you must also have time to play hard, once in a while.”

The CoB hopes to award the first Daniel G. Hertz Accounting Student Scholarship for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Jackie Sather, Director of Development for the CoB is delighted with the opportunities this scholarship will provide for business students. “A gift like this is truly inspirational. Not only will it support a student today, but placed in this endowment, it will continue to support accounting students for years to come.”

For more information on this scholarship endowment or other opportunities to support the CoB, please contact Jackie Sather at jsather@montana.edu or 406-994-6766.