The Daily Bulletin



Thursday July 02, 2020

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Meet Hank Barnett, associate professor of business
April 17, 2019

From a distance, Hank Barnett may look like a stereotypical, buttoned down businessman straight from central casting. Those close to him know better.
Sure, he has a no-nonsense approach to tax matters, and he expects students to know the spirit and the letter of the law when it comes to accounting and finance. Wise students take care to avoid the accidental placement of an expense in Column A when it actually belongs in Column B.

Barnett’s throw-caution-to-the-wind personality is reserved for activities away from campus.
“I love teaching,” he said. “But one of the reasons I have loved working at Walters State is that the schedule is flexible, and you can do so many things in the summer.”

Barnett is likely one of a very few CPAs to also be an EMT. He earned a pilot’s license and has spent many hours in the sky. Perhaps his scariest adventuring was opening two sandwich shop franchises. (He doesn’t say much about those, preferring to call that stage of his life a learning experience.) 

He spends some of every summer somewhere in the woods. He spent many summers as a park ranger, working in law enforcement or in the backcountry. He’s served in the Great Smoky Mountains, Crater Lake and Yellowstone. 

Barnett built a reputation as a conservationist early in his career with the publication of the Barnett-Bach Economic Study on the effects of pollution along the Pigeon River. 

He co-wrote this report with Dr. Butch Bach, now professor emeritus of economics. Published in 1987, the report is one of the most influential accomplishments of Barnett’s career, and played a key role in efforts to clean up the river. Now, the river draws people from across the country who want to fish, kayak and canoe in water once too polluted for recreational activity.
Barnett also worked with Tommy Love, retired associate professor of accounting, in designing an accounting program unique to Walters State – the associates of applied science in accounting. This unique program trains students as paraprofessionals in accounting practice.
“I love teaching. I love giving people knowledge that will help them succeed in life. It is wonderful when you see students actually succeed. Nothing beats the moment a student comes back or emails you and says, ‘you made a difference in my life,’” Barnett said.
Barnett still remembers the day he decided to leave an accounting position in a global firm to become a teacher. Would he do it again?
“Of course. I would not change anything about coming to Walters State. I love my students and this is, of course, where I met my wife.”
His wife, Dr. Nancy Gray-Barnett, is a retired assistant vice president of academic affairs at Walters State.