This pillar of the accounting profession has dedicated his career to improving financial reporting and fostering better understanding of accounting within professional, academic, and business communities. He led financial accounting standard setting for over a decade and is known throughout the United States for his writings and speeches on accounting and auditing issues.
Born in 1938 and raised in Los Angeles, California, his father was a salesman for a chemical company and later a real estate firm, and his mother was a housewife. His brother and two sisters were championship volleyball players, and his grandfather, who died before his birth, was manager of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. From his eleventh year and throughout his high school and college years, he worked at least twenty hours per week -- first as a pin boy in a bowling alley and later as a clerk in a grocery store -- paying for all of his college expenses.
Following graduation from high school and a less than stellar start at UCLA, he joined the Army for six months of active duty. He then returned to complete his baccalaureate degree at the University of Southern California in 1961, where he was president of his Beta Alpha Psi chapter, received the Price Waterhouse Award for the Outstanding Senior, and was elected to Beta Gamma Sigma.
Upon graduation, he joined Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young) in Los Angeles where he worked as a member of the audit staff for ten years. In 1971, he transferred to the national office of E&Y in Cleveland and became a partner in the following year. Shortly thereafter, he was named National Director of Accounting Standards for the firm. During a period of rapidly developing and expanding financial reporting and auditing standards, he worked with Ray Groves to produce an extensive and influential series of publications on accounting, auditing and related topics; during one twelve-month period in the early 1970s, they issued 100 publications.
His exemplary record of service to his profession includes significant contributions to a wide array of organizations including the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the American Institute of CPAs, Financial Executives International, the Institute of Management Accountants, and the American Accounting Association. He joined the AICPA's Accounting Standards Executive Committee in 1976 and served as its chair from 1979 to 1982. From 1980 to 1983 he served on the FASB's Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council, and from 1982 to 1984 he represented the United States on the International Accounting Standards Committee (now the International Accounting Standards Board). In 1984 he was named as one of the initial members of the FASB's Emerging Issues Task Force. In 1982, he was elected to a three-year term as “Member at Large” of the AICPA's Council.
In 1987, he joined the Financial Accounting Standards Board as its chairman, a position he held for the next ten and a half years. He led the Board through a series of challenging financial reporting decisions and worked to preserve the Board's integrity and independence in the face of extreme pressure from external interests. He led the Board's initial internationalization efforts and worked to improve communications with the Board's various constituencies, including establishment of the AAA-FASB annual research conference.
In 1997, he became E&Y Executive Professor of Accounting at the University of Georgia. He is recognized as one of the top teachers in his College and important contributor of service to its programs. A respected advisor to business and professional organizations and to major corporations, he serves on the boards of directors and chairs the audit committees of Legg Mason, Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and MCI, Inc. He also continues his professional leadership activities through the Institute of Management Accountants and the Financial Executives Research Foundation, among other organizations.
He is a prolific author with over 100 articles in professional and academic journals including the Journal of Accountancy, The CPA Journal, Accounting Horizons, and many other journals. One of his papers won the Journal of Accountancy's Annual Literary Award and another, The CPA Journal's Distinguished Article Award. He is frequently quoted in the financial press and has spoken to well over 500 audiences, including visits to more than 100 U.S. and international universities. He has also served as associate editor of Accounting Horizons and as a member of numerous editorial boards.
His many honors and awards include an honorary doctorate from DePaul University, the National Beta Alpha Psi Accountant of the Year Award, the California Society of CPAs Lifetime Achievement Award, and the AICPA Gold Medal for Distinguished Service.
He and his wife Marian have been married for 43 years; they have two children, Craig and Elizabeth, and live in Athens, Georgia. He is the 74th member of The Accounting Hall of Fame, Dennis Robert Beresford.