The skills and knowledge needed in the accounting profession are changing as quickly as technology and practices in the business world. The Accountancy programs at the Sam M. Walton College of Business will provide you with a broad-based accounting education where critical thinking, creative problem solving, and professional determination are encouraged.
History of the Accounting Department
2015 to Present
This period was marked by retirements of several longstanding extraordinary faculty members, including Dr. Rein Bouwman, Dr. Karen Pincus, and Dr. Charles Leflar. Likewise, a number of exceptional tenured faculty members were added including Dr. Kris Allee and Dr. Jonathan Shipman. In 2015, the Department was blessed to receive a gift from the estate of Dr. Bill Glezen to establish a newly endowed chair, as well as Faculty and Student Innovation Fund. Dr. Gary Peters was the first holder of the William Glezen Endowed Chair in Accounting.
In 2016, Dr. Peters began his service as department chair. Dr. Peters had previously served as the MACC director from 2005-2014 and interim department chair from 2014-2015. The Department successfully achieved AACSB re-accreditation. Supporting this achievement, the Faculty developed a guiding document to establish strategic focus areas, including the development of the Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. In 2017, the Department launched the College’s first discipline-specific online degree plan in accounting. The Department also benefited by the expansion of the Accounting Advisory Board, including strategic accounting additions to the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board. During this period, the Board established the Advisory Board Leadership Endowment to support innovative leadership development among accounting students.
In 2020, the Department received a $10 Million naming gift from William Dillard II, to establish the William Dillard Department of Accounting. The gift was provided in honor of William Dillard Sr. The naming gift established endowments for an Accounting Transformation Fund, EPIC Accounting Executive-In-Residence Program, MPACC Student Scholars, Accounting Technology and Analytics Initiative, Dillard Faculty Scholars of Excellence, Accounting Doctoral Student Support. 2020 also marked the launch of the Masters of Professional Accounting degree. The faculty specifically designed this program to allow for concentrations in tax, corporate accounting, and analytics. This program also strategically complemented the extremely robust and high-profile placement of students in both public accounting and industry. This also directly reflected the vast economic and cultural expansion of Northwest Arkansas, as well as the national placement of our graduates.
Our reputation, alumni support, and employer partnerships have never been stronger. Compared to our early history, our students are more likely to come from other States, sit in larger classes, have a more diverse set of internationally-recognized Professors, and spread to more geographic dispersed careers (not to mention on-line education experiences). They are also more likely to benefit from on-campus services, study-abroad experiences, internships, leadership activities, student group conferences, honors programs, and graduate programs. Their common memories are more likely to be about transformational experiences and personal development on campus. These memories are as noteworthy and life-changing as ever. They affirm our mission as the Flagship Institution in Arkansas.
2000 to 2014
In the first decade of the 21st century, the department developed several new courses in the SAP/ERP program, developed a new Ethics and Corporate Governance course, participated in the redesign of the undergraduate business core curriculum to innovate a business processes approach, and developed several new accounting courses for the MBA and managerial MBA programs. The MAcc and doctoral programs continued to grow in quantity and quality and students in these programs enjoyed their choice of multiple great job opportunities. Supporting materials for all undergraduate and master's courses became available to students electronically via the Blackboard Learning Management System.
The department's financial resources grew during this decade with the addition of several student award funds, scholarship funds, funds to support a computer lab and meeting rooms for the MAcc students, a student emergency fund and several new endowed chairs - including the Garrison-Wilson Chair, named in honor of donors Tom and Natalie Garrison and Larry Wilson and first held by Dr. Don Finn, and the Doyle and Maynette Derr Williams Chair, first held by Doyle Z. Williams, dean emeritus of the college. The national and international research reputation of the accounting faculty grew during this period and the tradition of professional service by our department chairs continued. Karen Pincus served as President of the international board of directors of Beta Alpha Psi, the student honorary, and represented the United States as a member of the International Accounting Education Standards Board. She was honored with the AICPA Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award as well.
Pincus's service as department chair ended in summer 2007. Our next department chair, Dr. Vernon Richardson, came to the faculty in 2005 as the holder of the Ralph McQueen Chair in Accounting. Dr. Richardson's reputation as a leading scholar in financial accounting, information technology and the capital markets; his international teaching experience; and his service as President of the American Accounting Association's Information Systems Section continued the strong leadership tradition of the department. One of the Department’s strongest achievements during this period was the rise of the Department’s Research contributions and reputation. Notable faculty research achievements include prominent editorial roles, Top 5 research rankings, and doctoral student placement shepherded by Dr. Vern Richardson, Dr. Linda Myers, and Dr. Gary Peters, as well as the promotion and hiring of Dr. Cory Cassell and Dr. T.J. Atwood. Complementing the massive student growth in the Walton College, the number of students in the Master program went from less than 10 to over 60. Advancements during this period include the establishment of the Accounting Advisory Board and creation of the Integrated Master Program, which provided advanced placement into the Masters degree path. The Department also launched a full-time Spring Internship program and reinvigorated the tax curriculum.
1960 thru 2000
During the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, events on a national level had an impact on the accounting program at the University of Arkansas. Job opportunities were abundantly available in public accounting, industry and other areas, leading to a rapid growth in the size of the accounting program. All the international accounting firms began regularly visiting the campus to seek outstanding recruits. The same was true of the major industrial companies, particularly those in the oil and gas industry. Financial support for faculty and scholarship money for students were being provided at an increasing rate by donations from firms and loyal alumni.
During this era, Dr. James P. Modisette succeeded Nolan Williams as department head in 1971. Under his leadership, the department instituted many professional activities, such as conducting professional development courses in Arkansas and throughout the nation, in both public and private accounting, and holding a review program for the CPA examination. Other significant developments included the initiation of the Accounting Recognition Day and Banquet, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1998, and the establishment of a masters degree program to meet the growing demands of professional practice.
In 1985, the department reached a major milestone when its undergraduate and masters programs became the first (and to date, the only) accounting programs in the state of Arkansas to be accredited by the AACSB: International Association for Management Education. In this same year, Dr. Jackson A. White became the head of the department, a position he held for ten years.
The decade of Jack White's leadership was one of great change for the accounting profession. Major forces such as advances in computer technology and increasing globalization began to change the way accountants worked and the nature of their work. During this period, Professor White continued the department's tradition of strong professional service. For example, in 1995, he served as President of the Federation of Schools of Accountancy, the association of accredited graduate programs in accounting.
Toward the end of this period, the faculty of the department began to discuss the need for major curriculum change to adapt to the changes in the profession. A change in the Arkansas law governing the requirements to sit for the CPA exam also contributed to the need for program change. After the November 1997 CPA exam, candidates were required to complete either a Masters in Accounting from an accredited program or 150 hours of education, including 30 hours of specific accounting courses and several other non-accounting course requirements.
In 1995, Dr. Karen V. Pincus joined the faculty as department chair. Dr. Pincus came to the University of Arkansas with a national reputation as a leader in accounting education change. In 1999, she became the first holder of the S. Robson Walton Chair in Accounting, named in honor of Wal-Mart CEO and accounting alumnus Rob Walton. During the 1995-1996 academic year, the faculty completed their plans for a new undergraduate, masters, and doctoral curriculum designed to prepare students for the needs of 21st century careers. Implementation of the new programs began in 1996 and was completed by the year 2000.
The 1995-2000 period was extraordinary for the number of long-time faculty members who reached retirement -- including Doris Cook, Jim Modisette, Jack White, Bill Letzkus, Bill Glezen, Ann Henry and Beth Williams. Together, they had just under 200 years of UA service. One of the department's greatest accomplishments during this period was the successful recruiting of a strong group of new faculty to help lead the department into the next century.
As the turn of the century approached, Dr. Pincus continued the department's tradition of strong professional service. She was Vice President of the American Accounting Association from 1996-1998; President of the Federation of Schools of Accountancy in 1999; and President of the AAA Auditing Section for 1999-2000.
1920's thru 1960
Accounting was the first major offered by the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business. The roots of the Accounting Department were established by Professor Walter B. Cole in 1926. Professor Cole was the only accounting professor for many years, so he taught all of the accounting courses. Walter Cole was also a leader in the accounting profession in Arkansas, serving as President of the Arkansas Society of CPA's and President of the Arkansas Board of Public Accountancy. After his retirement, the Walter B. Cole Chair in Accounting was established in his honor, funded by an anonymous contribution from a former student. Dr. Nolan E. Williams, who succeeded Professor Cole as chairman of the department in 1957, was appointed the first holder of this chair in 1977. The Cole chair was next held by Professor G. William Glezen, for whom the department's Glezen award is named. The Cole Chair is currently held by Professor Marinus Bouwman.
Professor Cole taught accounting and led the department at the University of Arkansas for 43 years. As remarkable as this length of service is, Dr. Doris Cook retired in 1997 with 50 years of distinguished service in the Accounting Department. Dr. Cook's career includes a long list of "firsts," including being the first woman CPA in Arkansas and the first woman member of the Arkansas Society of CPAs. In 1988, Dr. Cook was recognized as a University Professor, adding to her list of firsts by being the first University Professor in Accounting and the first woman to hold the University Professor title. After her retirement, the Doris M. Cook Chair in Accounting was established in her honor, funded by contributions from Dr. Cook, many of her former students and colleagues and the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. The first holder of the Cook Chair, appointed in 2001, is Dr. Carolyn M. Callahan, a nationally-recognized scholar.
About the time when Dr. Cook joined the faculty in the late 1940s, a large number of returning World War II veterans were attracted to accounting. They proved to be a very serious and diligent group who had a great impact on the business community in Arkansas and nationally. The growing interest in accounting nationwide, led to a demand for qualified accounting educators. To help meet this need, the University of Arkansas started a Ph.D. program during the 1950s, under the leadership of Professor Nolan Williams. It was then--and still is--the only doctoral program in accounting in the state of Arkansas. Many Ph.D. graduates subsequently achieved distinction as leaders in accounting education. Doctoral program alumni have served as members of the faculty of institutions of higher learning in most states of the U.S. and universities in Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.