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He made a strong impression on Rich Houston, director of Alabama’s master of accountancy program. Houston taught Jones in advanced auditing in the fall of 2011, a discussion-heavy course that students call “the current events class.”

“The class was at 8 in the morning,” he said. “He was always there, and he was the No. 1 participant in class in terms of both quantity and quality. And that includes having some fairly high-profile people in the accounting profession come into the class.”