He is a scholar and teacher whose dedication to the study of the development of accounting thought and to history of the accounting profession has won respect and admiration in both academe and practice. He was born in 1942 in Cleveland, Ohio, to a father, also an educator, who had completed graduate study at the Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and a mother who was a career homemaker. His working life began in grade school with a newspaper route for the Cleveland News; and the earnings permitted him to collect LPs of classical, popular and jazz music and to develop an appreciation for the Cleveland Orchestra. He and his older brother were active in the scouting movement and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. During college he worked at a general merchandise chain store. He sold merchandise, stocked goods and assisted the store’s auto mechanics, an experience that led to an interest in and maintenance of a collector’s class 1965 Ford Galaxie convertible.
After attending parochial and private schools on the West Side of Cleveland, he entered John Carroll University and was mentored by accounting Professor Fran McGurr. Hired by Haskins & Sells (now Deloitte) he worked briefly and then returned to The Ohio State University for a master of accounting degree. Following graduation from Ohio State in 1964, and recently married, he rejoined the Cleveland office of H&S. Upon graduating from Carroll, he had received a commission in the Army and thereafter served a two-year tour of duty from 1965 to 1967as a lieutenant including a tour in Thailand during the Vietnam War. He returned to Haskins & Sells for another year before deciding to pursue a career in higher education. In 1968, he accepted a faculty position at Augusta College and began preparation for doctoral study. In 1970 he devoted full time to his doctoral work at the University of Florida under the guidance of Williard Stone, who fostered in him a life-long interest in accounting history. In 1973 he began teaching at the Culverhouse School of Accountancy (back then it was a department in the College of Commerce and Business Administration) of the University of Alabama. In 1979, he returned to Cleveland and the accountancy faculty of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
He has authored or coauthored 7 books and monographs, and edited or coedited a series of volumes on history and practice subjects. His writings include over 70 published papers in academic and professional journals, and chapters in edited volumes. The history of the accounting profession has dominated his research since his doctoral years. In 1979, he published with his coauthor, Barbara Merino, A History of Accountancy in the United States, a seminal work addressing several centuries of the development of our discipline in this country. This work was revised, expanded and republished in 1998. Many of his papers present analyses of archival evidence to explore the historical development of the accounting profession, accounting practices, related regulatory institutions as well as biographical studies of key individuals in our discipline’s history. In addition, he has an extensive record of editorial service, including the editorships of the Accounting Historians Journal, Research in Accounting Regulation, and The Ohio CPA Journal. He also serves as North American editor for Abacus and on many editorial boards around the world.
A tireless colleague and mentor, his extensive record of service to his university and school of management includes serving 13 years as associate dean and two terms as accountancy department chair. His research record shows his continuing dedication to the development of his doctoral students and colleagues. In addition, he is an excellent and versatile teacher who has traveled widely as a guest lecturer and consulting accounting historian, reflecting a world-wide reputation for his contributions to research on accounting history, development and regulation.
He has played important roles in both academic and professional organizations. He served as president of the American Accounting Association and on many of its committees. In addition, he is a founding member of the Academy of Accounting Historians, serving both as its first president and the first editor of its journal, the Accounting Historians Journal. In 1987, seeing the need to encourage the study of the regulatory structures that have an impact on accounting, he founded a new journal called Research in Accounting Regulation. A CPA in both Alabama and Ohio, he has served on the AICPA Governing Council (1987-1995) and on its Board of Directors (1995-1998). He is a long-standing member of four state CPA societies and served as president of the Ohio Society of CPAs (1993-1994). He has chaired two working groups for the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Business Reporting Research Project and was also a research project leader for the AICPA Special Committee on Financial Reporting (known as “The Jenkins Committee”). In the late 1990s he worked with the United States General Accounting Office (now the U.S. Government Accountability Office), the White House Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. Treasury to assist in the securing AICPA Rule 203 recognition of authoritative accounting standards for the U.S. Government. In 2007-2008 he served as a member of the U. S. Treasury Department Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession and chaired its subcommittee on Human Capital. Currently he is a member of the GAO’s Accountability Advisory Council and of the PCAOB’s Advisory Council.
He also has been active in civic affairs for his home town, serving twice as chair of its Mayor’s Vision Committee, twice as a member of its Charter Review Committee and currently as chair of its Tax Review Board.
His many honors and awards include appointment as E. Mandell de Windt Professor and recently as a Distinguished University Professor by Case Western University. In recognition of his service to the accounting profession, he was awarded the Gold Medal by both the AICPA and the Ohio Society of CPAs. He received the Ohio Outstanding Accounting Educator Award in 1986 and the American Accounting Association’s Outstanding Educator Award in 2010. Accounting Today has regularly listed him among the 100 most influential people in the accounting profession.
He is a man devoted to and inspired by his faith and his family. He met his wife, Fran, during their college years and they married in 1964. They have four children and seven grandchildren who enjoy regular family gatherings at their home in Rocky River, Ohio.
He is the 87th member of The Accounting Hall of Fame, Gary John Previts.