Graduate and Former Student-Athlete Becomes Youngest Chair of a Board of Accountancy in the World

by hannah is so extra | Jan 19, 2021

​Christina O'Connell | January 12, 2021

Michael Barton ’14 is audit manager at Petrow Kane Leemhuis, PC, a local certified public accounting firm on the north side of Indianapolis, where he provides audit and attestation services to non-profits and privately held businesses. MichaelBarton He’s also the chair of the Indiana Board of Accountancy—the youngest chair in the world.

Just three years after graduating, Barton was appointed to the Indiana Board of Accountancy by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. Quickly after, he earned his seat as chair.

“It’s a great honor for me, but more importantly for my firm,” Barton said. “I also knew it would be good for Marian University and the Byrum School of Business. We have so many CPAs and other accountants in the great state of Indiana, so to have this opportunity to represent them is truly a humbling honor.”

In 2019, Barton received the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) Advocacy Award. Each year, the award is presented to an Indiana CPA who has demonstrated excellence in serving the profession, public interest, company, and community.

As a student at Marian University, Barton’s path to following accounting began with his advisor and mentor Kevin Huston, professor emeritus of accounting and finance, who along with Tim Akin, professor emeritus of accounting and finance, fueled his love for accounting.

“Kevin Huston was a really good advisor and mentor,” Barton said. “He’s the one that got me into accounting, and I don’t know what I’d be doing today without him talking me into it. I’d probably be a salesman somewhere. Kevin Huston and Tim Akin helped me fall in love with the accounting profession.”

Barton believes being an athlete on Marian’s men’s basketball team and a student in the Byrum School of Business encouraged him to establish connections and create a dialogue with new people, no matter the challenge.

“For me, it started on the athletic side of things,” Barton said. “As a freshman, you’re put in a new environment with new people, and that challenged me to connect with 15 people that I’ve never met before. I think Marian does a great job of teaching you how to learn quickly on your feet.”

On the court and in the classroom, Barton was able to translate his experience working, engaging, and collaborating in teams to the workforce.

“I think that Marian has you work as a team and figure it out. That’s the real world. These successful companies are one true team, and Marian emphasizes that in the classroom and in athletics,” Barton said.

As Indianapolis and Marian continue to grow, Barton sees many alumni making an impact and settling into leadership positions in the city. 

"You look around Indianapolis, especially the last 10 years, and you are seeing more and more Marian alum in leadership positions,” Barton said. “One of the biggest accounting firms in the world is EY, and the managing partner, Scott Bruns ’96, running the Indianapolis office is a Marian alum. He’s not the only one. You look around at various companies, and you’re seeing executives that are Marian alum.”

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