In this five-part series, TaxProf Blog will profile SMU's full-time Graduate Tax Faculy.
During the summer of 1986, immediately after my first year of law school, I took Income Tax I from Walter Nunnallee, who was a visiting professor at Florida. He was terrific. He made the course interesting and challenging. That fall, I took Income Tax II from Boyd Dyer, who was visiting Florida from Utah. Like Professor Nunnallee, Professor Dyer was also an outstanding classroom teacher. He made the material interesting and also covered current events, such as the tax consequences of the government's settlement with Ivan Boesky.
I then took a number of tax courses from Professors Steve Lind, Dennis Calfee, George Yin, James Freeland and Mike Oberst. They were all great classroom teachers. I became Professor Lind's research assistant my third year in law school, and he first suggested to me a career as an academic. Professors Lind and Calfee had the reputation at Florida for being among the finest teachers in the law school and for being the most loved professors by their students. I consider both of them my mentors.
After graduating from Florida, I attended the graduate tax program at NYU. Like Florida, NYU had some great professors, including Noel Cunningham, John Steines, James Eustice and Brookes Billman. Meade Emory was visiting NYU at that time, and I was fortunate that he took an interest in my career and also became a mentor to me. I took a job with Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, D.C. but knew that I wanted to make the jump to the academic world in the not too distant future.
I enjoyed my time at Steptoe, working with great people like Jim Holden and Susan Serling. After working at Steptoe for a short time, I was recommended by Noel Cunningham for a teaching position at SMU. In deciding whether to accept the offer from SMU, I consulted with a number of academics, including Bob Peroni (who was then at George Washington) and Michael Graetz (who was then at the Treasury Department on leave from Yale). They were unanimous in recommending that I pursue the position at SMU. I remember practicing on the weekends the presentation I was to give at SMU with one of my tax colleagues at Steptoe, Sam Olchyk, critiquing my presentation.
I have enjoyed every minute of my 17 years at SMU. My tax colleagues, Regis Campfield, Hank Lischer, Jack Mylan, and Josh Tate, have been great to work with. Former SMU Dean Charles Galvin also has been a wonderful colleague. Many times I wished I had overlapped with him when he was teaching full-time at SMU. Academics at other law schools, including Calvin Johnson, Larry Lokken, Dan Halperin and Marty McMahon, have been very supportive of me. I have also been very fortunate to have done visits at the Joint Committee on Taxation, being invited by the chief of staff -- first, Lindy Paull and later, George Yin and Tom Barthold. Paull first invited me as a consultant to the Joint Committee in 2000 working on a simplification study and then later on the Enron study. I also worked on various pieces of tax legislation. Working at the Joint Committee enabled me to see a different piece of the tax world (the legislative side), and I will always be grateful to Lindy Paull for giving me that opportunity.
Each Saturday, TaxProf Blog shines the spotlight on one of the 700+ tax professors in America's law schools. We hope to help bring the many individual stories of scholarly achievements, teaching innovations, public service, and career moves within the tax professorate to the attention of the broader tax community. Please email me suggestions for future Tax Prof Profiles. For prior Tax Prof Profiles, see here.