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A spirit that is not afraid

Jeff Long delivers 2024 Final Lecture

Dr. Jeff Long delivering the 2024 Final Lecture on April 1 in the Melton Student Center.
Dr. Jeff Long delivering the 2024 Final Lecture on April 1 in the Melton Student Center.

On Monday, April 1, Jeff Long delivered the 2024 Final Lecture, a distinguished honor bestowed upon him by the student body in recognition of his contributions to the university through teaching and service. 

Currently serving as the assistant dean of the Harbert College of Business, Long has been an integral part of the Auburn community since 2012, initially serving as the chief operating officer for the business college.

The award recognizes one of Auburn students' favorite professors and gives them the opportunity to present a short lecture on a topic of their choice. In his lecture, Long chose to reflect on invaluable life lessons he learned throughout his career and believed would be valuable for other students to learn. 

A graduate of Auburn himself, having earned a bachelor of science in accountancy and a Ph.D., Long shared a personal anecdote about his journey towards becoming a certified public accountant. Despite facing setbacks and challenges, including multiple attempts at the CPA exam, Long remained steadfast in his determination. He emphasized the importance of maintaining positivity amidst adversity, revealing how his perseverance ultimately led to a life changing encounter.

“I took a CPA review course in Birmingham and during that review course, is where I met my wife, Lori, and we've been married for 32 years," Long said. "Had I passed the CPA exam that first time or second time or if I'd given up, I would not have met my wife." 

Long’s commitment to personal and professional growth was evident as he recounted his decision to pursue a master's degree despite facing discouragement from his advisor. His message resonated deeply as he encouraged students to not let anyone talk them out of bettering themselves.

Long then underscored the value of education and expressed gratitude for the privilege of attending Auburn University. He urged students to recognize and appreciate those who support them both financially and academically.

“Once you start working, value education your whole career. It doesn't stop with an undergraduate degree. Be relentless in reaching certifications, passing your boards, whatever industry specific training there is," Long said. "Consider getting a master's degree. Be relentless in this pursuit."

Dispensing practical career advice, Long encouraged students not to be overly selective with their first job, emphasizing the importance of gaining experience and financial stability. Long advised students to anticipate and adapt to unforeseen changes in the professional landscape.

Additionally, Long underscored the significance of networking to advance one's career. However, when actively seeking employment, he said people must prioritize companies actively recruiting new hires.

More recently, Long shared his involvement in the Alabama Prison Arts Education Project, where he teaches incarcerated individuals at the Staton Correctional Facility. The program allows those incarcerated to receive a college degree. Long has found this to be very rewarding and emphasized the profound impact of giving back to the community.

Wrapping up his lecture, Long imparted wisdom for navigating the professional world, advocating for punctuality, positivity, and continual self-improvement. As his final words were spoken, Long was met with applause, a testament to the enduring impact of his teachings.

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