A Real-World Education Makes a Difference
Tax attorney cites importance of Walsh instructors
When William R. Connolly starts talking about his favorite professors, lean in. After receiving degrees from four different schools– Holy Cross College (AB), University of Texas (JD), University of Arizona (MBA) and Walsh College (MST) – Connolly knows what he’s talking about.
“The best instructor I ever had in all my education was (Walsh instructor) Mark Solomon, hands down,” says Connolly, a Birmingham Resident who earned his MST in 1981. “He did more for Walsh individually than any other instructor. “Additionally, Leon LaBrecque and Loren Opper were exceptional instructors who were real-life practitioners.” A local tax attorney Who died in 2013, Solomon developed the MST– Walsh’s first graduate degree program. It went on to achieve National recognition, ranked 8th in the country by TaxTalent. As part of the 1,300 MST alumni, Connolly says his Education prepared him well because of instructors like Solomon, LaBrecque, Opper and others.
Connolly also says Solomon’s love for the college and his students was evident in everything he did. According to Connolly, Solomon’s decision to create a premier tax library highlighted his commitment to further distinguish Walsh from other master’s in tax programs. It was a passion he passed on to Connolly. “Inspired by Mark, I dedicated my contributions to the library in his honor,” says Connolly, who opened his sole practice, William R. Connolly & Associates, in 1998 and also taught accounting; federal income tax; state and local tax; and estate, gift and trust income tax at Wayne State University’s business school.
In addition to giving, Connolly has continued using the tax library himself. He says its collection is “superior” to others in the area for its sheer number of volumes. “Whenever I need to do some research, I go to Walsh,’ he says. About once or twice every other year or so, he drives the short distance from his office in Troy to the Walsh campus to use the resources. Among them are extra periodicals, treaties and the Michigan Tax Tribunal reporter service in hard copy.
Connolly says though it’s hard to choose, one of his favorite Solomon stories involved another student in Consolidated Corporate Income Tax class. The student– a big case manager with the IRS who worked with clients like General Motors – and Solomon got into a disagreement one day about a complicated accounting and tax compliance matter. “[The student] told Mark he was wrong, and Mark insisted he was right,” says Connolly. “The next class, Mark went through the material and showed us why the student was correct. And he did it graciously. I’ll never forget it.” That graciousness showed in other ways, says Connolly. “He was dedicated to the students and passionate about helping them; he personally made sure I got through his consolidated income tax course,” he says. “He was very visible. Seven days a week, he was [at] Walsh.”
Connolly says what he learned from Solomon has stayed with him through the years. “For what I have done my whole career,” he says, “Walsh has provided the most relevant education.”