125 people of impact in accounting

Leaders who left a mark on the profession

BY KEN TYSIAC
June 1, 2012

It should come as no surprise that a profession known for integrity and character has had more than its share of special people.

The goals of the profession—among them establishing a climate of fairness for investors, helping businesses avoid risk and prosper, and aiding people in responsible financial planning—naturally attract principled men and women.

Photo at left: Robert Montgomery

In celebration of the AICPA’s 125th anniversary, the JofA set out to identify 125 people who have made a significant impact on the profession since 1887, the year the organization that would become known as the AICPA was founded. The 125 accountants, educators, regulators, and auditors were chosen by the JofA staff with the help of an expert panel. Reasonable minds could argue for different candidates. There were many names that were extremely difficult to eliminate. Without a doubt, though, the 125 on this list, arranged alphabetically, have made a profound impact:

Arthur Andersen. He left his job as controller of the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. in 1913 to help establish the eponymous firm that was one of the Big Five in accounting until its demise in 2002, following the Enron collapse. He also served as head of the accounting department at Northwestern University.

George Anderson George Anderson (left). He served as chairman of the AICPA’s Special Committee on Standards of Professional Conduct in the 1980s, AICPA chairman in 1980–81, aElmnd principal in the firm Anderson ZurMuehlen. The special committee’s report led to the AICPA membership’s endorsement of the Plan to Restructure Professional Standards.

Thomas Coleman Andrews. After serving as AICPA president in 1950–51, he became the first CPA to hold the position of commissioner of Internal Revenue beginning in 1953. He ran for president of the United States in 1956 as an independent candidate. He received 107,929 votes, less than two-tenths of 1% of the popular vote, as Dwight Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson in the election.

Robert Anthony. The Harvard Business School educator was U.S. assistant secretary of Defense, Controller from 1965 to 1968. He wrote at least 27 books, including Management Accounting: Text and Cases (1956), the first text and casebook on the subject. He was president of the American Accounting Association (AAA) in 1973–74.

Marshall Armstrong. In 1972, he became the first chairman of FASB, beginning his job from a desk at the AICPA offices. FASB had more than 100 staff members when he left as chairman five years later. While AICPA president in 1970–71, he appointed the Wheat Committee, which recommended forming FASB, and the Trueblood Committee, which called for a reporting framework that would be more useful to investors.

George Bailey. In 1947, the longtime Ernst & Ernst partner started George Bailey & Co., which later became part of Touche Ross. The 1947–48 AICPA president is known for developing closer relations between the accounting and legal professions and improving accounting education at the university level.

Andrew Barr. The SEC’s chief accountant from 1956 to 1972 received the highest honor the federal government can give a career employee, the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service, in 1960. A speech he gave in 1959 helped trigger a revision in the AICPA’s rules of conduct, barring members from having financial interests in or being employed by audit clients.

Elmer Beamer. The Haskins & Sells executive chaired the AICPA Committee on Education and Experience Requirements for CPAs. The committee’s 1969 report concluded that a five-year collegiate program was necessary to acquire the knowledge needed to begin a career in public accounting.

William Beaver. The Stanford University graduate school professor wrote a widely read book, Financial Reporting: An Accounting Revolution. He also was a trustee of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) from 1993 to 1996 and president of the AAA in 1987–88.

Norton Bedford. The University of Illinois professor devoted his career to developing the conceptual base for accounting thought. He chaired the AAA’s Committee on the Future Structure, Content, and Scope of Accounting Education, known as the Bedford Committee, whose 1986 report recommended changes to more adequately prepare students for accounting careers.

Dennis Beresford. Chairman of FASB for 10 years beginning in 1987, he worked to maintain the independence and integrity of the board under pressure from outside interests. He led the board’s early efforts at internationalization, and later joined the University of Georgia’s faculty. He also was national director of accounting standards at Ernst & Young.

Herman Bevis. The Price Waterhouse CEO from 1961 to 1969 was known for his devotion to the firm’s integrity and quality. After retirement, he spent five years as executive director of the Banking and Securities Industries Committee, seeking to solve paperwork problems in the industry. He advocated doing away with stock certificates held by individual shareholders.

Carman Blough. As SEC chief accountant, he produced a famous Accounting Series Release (ASR no. 4) in 1938 that said financial statements prepared in accordance with principles without authoritative support would be presumed misleading or inaccurate. The release helped the profession standardize accounting practices, which had been widely diverse at the time.

Charles Bowsher. He served a 15-year term as comptroller general of the United States beginning in 1981 and increased the visibility of the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office). He also was a FAF trustee and served four years as assistant secretary of the Navy for Financial Management.

Ernest Breech. He was chairman of the board of Ford Motor Co. and Trans World Airlines. His leadership helped restore Ford to prosperity following World War II, and rebuilt an ailing TWA into a profitable corporation in the 1960s.

Abraham Briloff. The Baruch College–City University of New York professor joined the faculty in 1944 and became known for his biting criticism of the profession. His writings pointed out the misuse of accounting principles by some corporations.

Samuel Broad. The Peat Marwick Mitchell partner and AICPA president (1944–45) is credited with recommending that the SEC draw a distinction between auditing procedures and auditing standards. He was the first expert witness for the SEC in its investigation of the McKesson & Robbins fraud in 1939, and he drafted a key auditing reform advising auditors to confirm receivables and observe the taking of inventory.

Frank Broaker. He helped draft the Wray Bill, which in 1896 made New York the first state to license CPAs. He also helped prepare the first CPA examination, received the first CPA certificate, and served on the first state board of examiners and as president of the AICPA precursor organization, the American Association of Public Accountants. In 1897, he published The American Accountants’ Manual, a CPA review book that was the first accounting text published in the United States.

Donaldson Brown Donaldson Brown (left). The financial officer, first with DuPont and later with General Motors, is credited with modernizing cost accounting for business. His flexible budgeting systems and pricing systems geared to specific return on investment helped save GM in the 1920s and became models for the business world.

Percival Brundage. After a stellar career with Price Waterhouse, he became the first CPA to become director of the Bureau of the Budget, a position he held for two years, until his retirement in 1958. He served as AICPA president in 1948–49 and was director of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Robert Bunting. His leadership qualities were illustrated by his service as chairman of the AICPA board of directors in 2004–05 and as president of the International Federation of Accountants from 2008 to 2010. He was president and chairman of Moss Adams LLP from 1982 to 2004.

John “Sandy” Burton. He succeeded Andrew Barr as chief accountant of the SEC in 1972, serving four years. He forged the SEC’s relationship with FASB, initiated the first requirements for companies to disclose the impact of current costs in their financial reports, and nudged the accounting profession toward a self-regulatory structure that included peer review. He also was dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Business.

John Carey. He worked in a variety of leadership roles for the AICPA as its longtime administrative chief, serving as secretary, executive director, and administrative vice president. He also was JofA editor from 1949 to 1954 and publisher from 1955 to 1966, and authored two highly respected books on ethics in the profession.

Arthur Carter. A Haskins & Sells managing partner from 1927 to 1941, he later spent five years as executive accountant for the U.S. Department of War. He achieved the rank of major general and was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster. His 1933 testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency helped persuade the Senate to require audits of securities registrants by independent CPAs.

James Castellano. The head of RubinBrown was chairman of the AICPA board of directors in 2002 as the profession dealt with the fallout from the Enron scandal. He traveled the country discussing what changes were needed and testified before congressional committees that the AICPA and its members were committed to restoring public confidence.

George Catlett. The Arthur Andersen senior technical partner served as Accounting Principles Board member from 1965 to 1971, when it issued opinions on poolings of interest and goodwill. He was a co-author of Accounting for Goodwill.

Philip Chenok. As AICPA president from 1980 to 1995, he guided the organization through an eventful time. The Plan to Restructure Professional Standards, a strengthening of self-regulation, took place during his tenure, as did a liability crisis that led to a battle to secure legislation against frivolous lawsuits.

Michael Chetkovich. As AICPA chairman, he advocated for fundamental changes in 1977–78 as Congress held the Moss and Metcalf hearings, which focused on the accounting profession’s ability to regulate itself. The managing partner of Haskins & Sells from 1970 to 1978, he defended the profession’s high standards as the AICPA peer review system, SEC Practice Section, and Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) took shape.

Manuel Cohen. The chairman of the AICPA Commission on Auditors’ Responsibilities, he died in 1977 before his work on what was known as the Cohen Commission was completed. The commission proposed significant changes in the auditing profession. He also was SEC chairman from 1964 to 1969.

J. Michael Cook. He helped direct the merger in 1989 of Deloitte, Haskins & Sells with Touche Ross, and was named CEO of Deloitte & Touche. He chaired the AICPA during its centennial year in 1987; chaired FAF, which he served for seven years; chaired the World Congress of Accountants in 1992; and serves on the boards of a number of public companies.

W.W. Cooper. A prolific writer and educator, he teamed with mathematician Abraham Charnes to develop areas of new use and research in quantitative approaches to management. During World War II, he coordinated the federal government’s accounting-related statistics programs as an employee of the Division of Statistical Standards at the U.S. Bureau of the Budget.

David Costello. A visionary who retired in 2011 after 17 years as president and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), he provided leadership that has enhanced the effectiveness of state boards of accountancy and helped increase the mobility of accountants across jurisdictions.

John Cromwell Jr. He became the first African-American CPA in 1921. Working exclusively in the black community at a time when African Americans faced widespread discrimination, he taught high school accounting in Washington and was comptroller of Howard University.

Sidney Davidson. The Johns Hopkins and University of Chicago professor served as a FAF trustee and AICPA vice president in 1986–87. He was a member of the Accounting Principles Board (APB) from 1965 to 1970 and was president of the AAA in 1968–69.

Philip Defliese. The chairman and managing partner of the executive committee of Coopers & Lybrand from 1968 to 1976, he was a leader in developing accounting standards. The AICPA board chairman in 1974–75 also chaired the APB in the early 1970s and crusaded for public companies to be required to more accurately report their finances.

Samuel Derieux. The AICPA board chairman in 1973–74 was a FAF trustee and chaired the AICPA special committee on small and medium-size firms in 1980. He advocated for simpler, more useful, and understandable accounting standards.

Sir Arthur Lowes Dickinson. His speech, “Profits of a Corporation,” at the international Congress of Accountants in 1904 provided a reference point for understanding the theory of profit and loss that led to the Federal Reserve Board document “Uniform Accounts.” A president (1904–06) of the Federation of Societies of Public Accountants, he created the format for a consolidated financial report for U.S. Steel.

Arthur Dixon. Chairman of AICPA’s Tax Executive Committee from 1977 to 1980, he had an outstanding record of service to the tax profession. As managing partner, the tax department leader helped transform Oppenheim, Appel, Dixon and Co. from a local to a national firm. The AICPA’s Arthur J. Dixon Memorial Award, the profession’s most prestigious honor in the area of taxes, is given in his honor.

Marquis Eaton. The 1956–57 AICPA president founded his own firm, Eaton & Huddle, and was partner for 15 years until his death in 1958. He helped facilitate the Institute’s name change from the American Institute of Accountants (AIA) to the AICPA in 1957.

James Don Edwards. An original FAF trustee, he helped develop an AAA commission to establish accounting principles in 1970–71 that was a precursor to FASB. He was instrumental in developing the accounting program at the University of Georgia, where he was a professor for 26 years. His History of Public Accounting in the United States is an important text on the profession’s development.

Robert Elliott. The forward-thinking AICPA chairman (1999–2000) and KPMG partner sought to help CPAs use technological advances and chaired the Elliott Committee, which broadened the definition of assurance services.

Robert Ellyson. The Coopers & Lybrand partner was the first winner of NASBA’s award for public service in 1990. He urged consistency in requirements across state lines.

Alwin Ernst. With his brother Theodore, he started Ernst & Ernst in 1903. He was among the first to recognize that accounting information could be used to make business decisions that could help clients. He was dedicated to the concept that the firm’s people were a valuable resource.

William Ezzell. The Deloitte executive was AICPA chairman in 2002–03, when the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 took effect. He committed himself to maintaining the profession’s credibility and reputation for objectivity and integrity. As president of the AICPA Foundation, he spearheaded the Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program.

Harry Finney. Northwestern University professor from 1920 to 1944 also helped found the firm Baumann, Finney & Co. He collaborated with Herbert Miller on later editions of the three-volume series Principles of Accounting, which has sold more than 2 million copies.

Thomas Flynn. The first chairman of New York City’s Municipal Assistance Corporation in 1975, he helped manage the city’s finances as New York teetered on the brink of default. He also served as vice chairman of Arthur Young and was AICPA president in 1965–66.

John F. Forbes. He was principal of the California firm John F. Forbes & Co. and AICPA president in the 1930s. He sought to expand membership of the AICPA, which was then known as the American Institute of Accountants. In 1917, he suggested that the Institute correlate its membership exam with the states, starting a path toward uniform standards.

Arthur Foye. He was Haskins & Sells’s managing partner from 1947 to 1956 and served as AICPA president in 1953–54. He had a strong interest in international affairs and served as a member of four committees for U.S. government foreign aid agencies. He served as president of the Eighth International Congress of Accountants from 1957 to 1962.

S. Paul Garner. A leader of the international movement in the profession following World War II, he served as founding president of the International Association for Accounting Education and Research in 1984. He was dean of the College of Commerce at the University of Alabama from 1954 to 1971 and served as AAA president in 1951.

Oscar Gellein. Formerly a cowboy and a high school principal, he rose to the position of national director of accounting and auditing at Deloitte, Haskins & Sells before retiring in 1974. He started Deloitte’s research department in 1953 and was a member of the APB and FASB.

Paul Grady. He was awarded the Navy’s Distinguished Civilian Service Medal in 1944 and the Presidential Award of Merit in 1947 in recognition of his outstanding contributions as an employee formalizing procurement procedures for the Navy. He worked 19 years with Arthur Andersen and 17 more with Price Waterhouse, and authored the AICPA’s Accounting Research Study No. 7, “Inventory of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for Business Enterprises,” which was published in 1965 and sold more than 300,000 copies.

Ray Groves. Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Ernst from 1977 to 1994, he helped a national firm grow as he oversaw the merger with Arthur Young and the firm became Ernst & Young. As AICPA chairman in 1984–85, he played a key role in creating the Treadway Commission, formed to improve financial management and eliminate fraud.

Larzette Hale Larzette Hale (left). In 1955, she became the first African-American woman CPA to earn a Ph.D. in accounting. She was head of the Utah State University School of Accountancy for 13 years before retiring in 1990. She was national president of Beta Alpha Psi and the American Woman’s Society of CPAs.

Walter Hanson. The chairman of Peat Marwick Mitchell (later KPMG) from 1965 to 1980, he was widely regarded for his business insight and commitment to transparency. He was the first chairman of the AICPA’s SEC Practice Section in 1977.

Joseph Hardcastle. At age 69, he became one of just three individuals who passed the first CPA exam in New York in 1896, receiving the highest score on the exam. A native of England, he regularly contributed to early U.S. accounting journals and became a leading authority on accounting theory.

Charles Haskins. The Haskins & Sells co-founder helped champion the law that led to the establishment of the first CPA exam in New York City in 1896. He served on the 1893 Dockery Commission, whose operational audit of government efficiency was the first use of public accountants by the U.S. government, and he co-founded the New York University School of Commerce, which now is known as the NYU Stern School of Business.

Henry Rand Hatfield Henry Rand Hatfield (left). In 1904, he secured the first full-time professorial appointment in accounting in the United States as an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley. This pioneer of U.S. academic accounting in 1919 served as president of the AAA, which he helped found three years earlier.

Robert Herz. The chairman of FASB from 2002 to 2010, he also has been a member of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), and was senior technical partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers. He pushed for more  disclosure and better reporting on behalf of investors, playing an important role at a critical time.

Charles Hoffman. In 1998, he developed XBRL, which enables the sharing of financial data in real time on the internet. His invention standardized and revolutionized accounting through a computer-based tagging process he marketed with the AICPA’s help.

Charles Horngren Charles Horngren (left). The Stanford University educator earned the title “father of modern cost accounting” as author of the Cost Accounting: A Managerial Emphasis textbook that has been through 14 editions since its first publication in 1962. The book changed the field by demonstrating the value of accounting as a management tool to influence wise decisions. He served as a FAF trustee from 1984 to 1989 and as AAA president in 1976–77.

Robert Israeloff. A champion of small and local practitioners, he chaired the AICPA board of directors in 1994–95 and the AICPA’s special committee on accreditation of specialization, whose report described areas where new accreditations could help CPAs compete and separate themselves from non-CPA practitioners.

Edmund Jenkins. An Arthur Andersen executive for 38 years, he was chairman of FASB from 1997 to 2002. He chaired the AICPA’s Special Committee on Financial Reporting, which in 1994 wrote the Jenkins Report, which advocated customer-focused improvement of business reporting and improvements in fraud prevention and detection.

Robert Kaplan. The Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration professor co-invented with David Norton “The Balanced Scorecard” in the early 1990s. This strategic management and planning system considers nonfinancial metrics to provide a fuller view of an organization’s performance.

Ralph Kent. He chaired Arthur Young from 1965 to 1977 and served as AICPA president in 1968–69. He was the first president of the FAF and for 16 years was a member of the consultant panel of the comptroller general of the United States.

Sidney Kess. A tax CPE pioneer, he is one of the nation’s foremost lecturers and authors on tax, financial, and estate planning. He was national director of taxes at KMG Main Hurdman and a tax partner at KPMG.

Stuart Kessler. A consistent advocate for the diversification of the accounting profession, he was a founding partner of Goldstein Golub Kessler LLP and works as a director at J.H. Cohn. He served as AICPA chairman in 1997–98, was a longtime president of the AICPA Foundation, and has been renowned for his expertise in tax issues and personal financial planning.

Don Kirk. He was FASB chairman for nine years beginning in 1977 and oversaw the board’s transition from private gatherings behind closed doors to open, public meetings. He was one of FASB’s initial seven members, served on the Public Oversight Board (POB), and was a partner with Price Waterhouse.

Olivia Kirtley. She became the first woman and the first business and industry CPA to chair the AICPA board in 1998. A longtime vice president of finance and CFO of the Vermont American Corp., she became a member of the International Federation of Accountants board in 2007.

Eric Kohler. He was comptroller for the Tennessee Valley Authority and editor of Accounting Review. As comptroller of the Economic Cooperation Administration from 1948–49, he played a significant role in administering the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe’s economies after World War II. His Dictionary for Accountants, published in 1952, carefully defined 2,275 terms and was updated for multiple editions.

Rholan Larson. He helped found Larson, Allen, Weishair & Co. LLP in Minnesota in 1953 and, as AICPA chairman in October 1983, appointed the Special Committee on Standards of Professional Conduct, which led to the Plan to Restructure Professional Standards. In 1984, he began a five-year stint as president of FAF.

J.K. Lasser. His Your Income Tax text, a tax guide for the general population that was first published in 1939, was a best-seller. The head of the J.K. Lasser firm, which merged with Touche Ross, he revised the book each year; his 1946 edition sold 7 million copies.

LeRoy Layton. The AICPA chairman in 1972–73, he also was chairman of the APB. He served on the Commission on Auditors’ Responsibilities from 1975 to 1977 and the Special Investigations Committee from 1979 to 1985. He chaired the board of management of McLintock Main Lafrentz-International, now part of KPMG, from 1975 until his retirement in 1977.

A.C. Littleton. A pioneer in graduate accounting education, he developed the nation’s first Ph.D. program in accounting at the University of Illinois in 1937. With William Paton, in 1940, he published the groundbreaking An Introduction to Corporate Accounting Standards, a defining work in the literature of the profession.

William Lybrand. The founder, in 1898, of the firm that became known as Coopers & Lybrand, he was an early advocate of integrated cost systems. He was president of the National Association of Accountants and was a crusader for the importance of education, although he had no formal education in accounting.

Robert Mautz. The longtime professor at the University of Illinois and later director of the Paton Center for Accounting Education and Research at the University of Michigan was a pioneer of auditing ideology. His 1961 book with Hussein A. Sharaf, Philosophy of Auditing, is recognized as a classic.

George O. May. A native of England and a Price Waterhouse senior partner, he became a U.S. citizen in 1909 and helped produce a 1934 publication, Audits of Corporate Accounts. The work recommended a form for auditors’ reports for companies and accounting principles, which helped give the New York Stock Exchange the ability to require annual independent audits for listed companies.

James O. McKinsey. In the 1920s, he founded McKinsey & Co., which became the world’s largest management consulting firm. The University of Chicago professor and 1924 AAA president authored the first book on the subject of budgeting and the first textbook on managerial accounting.

Robert Mednick. He suggested a national certification program for CPAs that would make it possible for them to practice in different jurisdictions, then worked with NASBA to advance cross-border practice. An Arthur Andersen executive and AICPA chairman chairman in 1996–97, he urged tort reform to protect CPAs from being easy targets for lawsuits by disappointed investors and has a long record of service with the International Federation of Accountants.

Barry Melancon. The president and CEO of the AICPA since 1995, he has spearheaded a number of initiatives for the Institute, including private company reporting standards; the launch of the CGMA designation; the computerized CPA exam; audit quality centers; and two consumer financial literacy programs.

Herbert Miller. He was a professor at the University of Michigan, Michigan State, and University of Georgia, and published with Harry Finney multiple editions of an often-used, three-part textbook titled Principles of Accounting. He served as AAA president in 1965–66.

Bert Mitchell Bert Mitchell (left). Founder of Mitchell & Titus LLP, he became the first African American to head a state CPA society in 1987 in New York. He is cofounder of the National Association of Minority CPA Firms and has served on the board and governing council of the AICPA.

Robert Montgomery . He helped found Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery in 1898 and led a unification of the profession in 1936 by pushing for the merger of the American Society of CPAs and the AIA. He served as AICPA president from 1912 to 1914 and 1935 to 1937. His groundbreaking Auditing, Theory and Practice, first published in 1912, remains an important resource in updated editions.

Maurice Moonitz. The University of California at Berkeley professor was the first associate dean of the university’s Graduate School of Business Administration. He also worked for Arthur Andersen and served as a member of the APB. The 1978–79 AAA president authored The Basic Postulates of Accounting (1961).

Gerhard Mueller. Recognized as the “father of international accounting education,” he was a FASB member from 1996 to 2001 and was AAA president in 1988–89. His career as a University of Washington professor included teaching the first graduate international accounting course in the United States in 1964.
 
Thomas Murphy. The career GM finance executive started as a clerk in the controller’s office and became the last chief executive to lead GM during a period when its position as the foremost world automobile superpower was unquestioned, from 1974 to 1980.

Wallace Olson. The first staff president of the AICPA (1972 to 1980), he played a major role in a time of change. He led the profession through a significant phase of congressional oversight and was a member of the Wheat Committee, which recommended the establishment of FASB. He also helped in a restructuring of the AICPA’s code of conduct, which led to the establishment of the POB.

Shaun O’Malley. Price Waterhouse’s worldwide chairman from 1992 to 1995, he chaired the FAF Board of Trustees. Beginning in 1998, he served as chairman of the POB’s Panel on Audit Effectiveness.

Jennie May Palen. A crusader for the advancement of women in accounting, she began working at Haskins & Sells in 1918. After retiring in 1949, she spent most of her remaining 41 years writing and urging accountants to communicate effectively. Her major work, the 600-page Report Writing for Accountants, was in print for two decades.

Russell Palmer. He was the youngest person ever to lead a Big Eight firm when he became Touche Ross CEO at age 37 in 1972. After 27 years in practice, he became dean of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

William Paton. The acclaimed University of Michigan educator helped found the AAA in 1916 and served as president in 1922. He was the first editor and production manager of The Accounting Review beginning in 1926, and in 1940 he helped publish the highly respected An Introduction to Corporate Accounting Standards. The AICPA named him the Outstanding Educator of the Century in 1987.

Maurice Peloubet. Scholars have traced the roots of investigative accounting to his influential JofA essay, “Forensic Accounting—Its Place in Today’s Economy,” published in the June 1946 issue. He served as delegate to the International Congress on Accounting four times and was a principal of Pogson, Peloubet & Co., which merged with Price Waterhouse in 1963.

Weldon Powell. The Haskins & Sells executive led a major reform of the AICPA’s procedures for developing accounting principles. He chaired a special committee that recommended replacing the Committee on Accounting Procedure with the APB. He became the first chairman of the APB when it was formed in 1959.

Gary Previts. A longtime professor and accounting history expert at Case Western Reserve University, he has been AAA president and was first president of the Academy of Accounting Historians. With co-author Barbara Merino he produced A History of Accountancy in the United States to chronicle the profession’s growth. Published in 1979, the work was updated in 1998.

John Queenan. The managing partner of Haskins & Sells from 1956 to 1970 co-chaired the National Conference of Lawyers and CPAs. He is credited with helping facilitate cooperation between the two groups in income tax practice. He served as AICPA president in 1961–62 and was a member of the Committee on Accounting Procedure (CAP) and the APB, and vice chairman of FASB.

Walter Schuetze. The SEC chief accountant from 1992 to 1995 entered government service when he left Peat Marwick Mitchell to be one of the original members of FASB in 1973. He also was chief accountant of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

J.S. Seidman. The son of a Russian immigrant, he was a principal in the firm Seidman & Seidman, and served as AICPA president in 1959–60. He chaired the AICPA’s Seidman Committee, which in 1965 called for an authoritative identification of generally accepted accounting principles.

Elijah Watt Sells. With Charles Haskins, in 1895 he founded Haskins & Sells, the first major firm in the United States to be formed by American, rather than British, accountants. Earlier, Sells and Haskins participated in an extensive review to find modifications that could make the federal government more efficient and economical. Sells was AICPA president from 1906 to 1908.

David Solomons. A world leader in accounting research and education, he headed leading academic accounting associations in both the United States and England. He was the principal draftsman of the Wheat Report, an AICPA committee proposal that in 1972 recommended the creation of FASB.

A.A. Sommer Jr. A commissioner of the SEC from 1973 to 1976, he was chairman of the agency’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Disclosure in 1977. The panel’s final report proposed changes in the SEC’s system of corporate disclosure and encouraged the publication of predictive information.

Leonard Spacek. The Arthur Andersen firm managing partner from 1947 to 1963, he irritated some with his criticism of the accounting profession. But his critiques led to increased interest in the profession in the 1960s on the part of the financial press. He called for a private sector “court of accounting principles” as a means for eliminating alternative accounting principles.

Charles Sprague. Known as the first modern American accounting theorist, he worked to help secure passage of the first U.S. CPA law in New York state in 1896. He served as one of the three members of the first State Board of Examiners for CPAs, and is credited with originating the loose-leaf ledger and introducing small bank passbooks.

Robert Sprouse. A FASB member for almost 13 years starting in 1973, he was also vice chairman for 11 years. He was a member of the faculties at the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, and Stanford; co-authored major studies for the APB; and was AAA president in 1972–73.

Elmer Staats Elmer Staats (left). He was U.S. comptroller general from 1966 to 1981 and received the Presidential Citizens Medal upon retirement. He headed what was then called the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) as it evolved into a body that tracked government efficacy as well as dollars spent.

Maurice Stans. The 1954–55 AICPA president was Richard Nixon’s secretary of Commerce from 1969 to 1972 and chaired Nixon’s reelection fundraising efforts. Some of the nearly $60 million Stans helped raise financed the Watergate burglaries, according to the Washington Post. He was acquitted of charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury, the Post reported, after being accused of trying to influence the SEC to favor a donor named Robert Vesco.

Victor Stempf. A Touche Ross partner, he served as president of the AICPA (1943–44). He served as a contributing and consulting editor for the Accountants’ Handbook (1943), and chaired the AICPA Committee on Federal Income Taxation from 1937 to 1940.

Reed Storey. As supervisor of research staff for the APB and senior technical adviser for FASB, he played a key role in the development of accounting principles and standards from 1964 to 1996.

A. Marvin Strait. The 1987–88 AICPA chairman was largely responsible for the successful implementation of the AICPA Plan to Restructure Professional Standards in the 1980s.

Kenneth Stringer. As a Haskins & Sells and Deloitte partner, he introduced innovative systems to the firm’s audit practice. These included a statistical sampling plan adopted in 1962 and Auditape—the first generalized audit retrieval software package developed by a national accounting firm.

Jerry Sullivan. The head of the POB from 1989 to 2002, he also served as chairman of the AICPA Auditing Standards Board when it issued the 10 standards dealing with the expectation gap in 1988. He also was a Coopers & Lybrand partner and director of audit policy.

James Treadway. He served as the first chairman of the National Commission on Fraudulent Financial Reporting, known as the Treadway Commission. The group’s 1987 report led to the issuance of a widely used, integrated framework for internal control.

Robert Trueblood. He was chairman of the board for Touche Ross from 1963 until his death in 1974. He also was president of the AICPA in 1965–66 and chaired the Study Group on the Objectives of Financial Statements, known as the Trueblood Committee, whose recommendations helped financial statements better meet the needs of outside users and aid economic decision-making.

James Turley. The retiring Ernst & Young executive has been chairman of the firm since 2001 and CEO since 2003. He also served as the first chairman of the governing board of the Center for Audit Quality and served on President Barack Obama’s Export Council.

Sir David Tweedie. The Scottish accountant was the first chairman of the IASB, serving from 2001 through 2011. He led the push for global standards and shepherded the IASB through a worldwide financial crisis in the latter portion of his term.

William Vatter. The University of Chicago and University of California at Berkeley educator wrote an influential text on managerial accounting in 1950 and was a pioneer in the field of methods for allocating costs. His Standards for Cost Analysis report to the comptroller general was the principal conceptual basis of the Cost Accounting Standards Board’s initial pronouncements.

Scott Voynich. The AICPA chairman in 2003–04 served on the Institute’s State Legislation Committee while the Uniform Accountancy Act was being developed. He also chaired the Special Committee on Mobility, which helped remove legislative hurdles to cross-border practice.

David M. Walker. A leading voice for transparency in government, he was comptroller general of the United States from 1998 to 2008. He was director of Arthur Andersen’s human capital services practice from 1989 to 1998, and in 2010 he launched the “Comeback America Initiative,” a nonpartisan effort to promote fiscal responsibility at all levels of government.

William Werntz. The SEC’s chief accountant from 1938 to 1947 consolidated in 1940 all the SEC’s accounting rules and requirements for the form, content, and detail of financial statements into one document, Regulation S-X. He also was a member of the AICPA Special Committee on Research, which designed the framework for the APB in 1959.

Francis Wheat. The corporate securities lawyer was chairman of the AICPA’s Wheat Committee, which was formed to study whether the government or private sector should set accounting principles. In 1972, the committee’s report proposed replacing the part-time, unpaid APB with a full-time, paid organization, which became known as FASB.

John Raymond Wildman. The first president of the AAA in 1917, the Haskins & Sells partner was devoted to the firm’s educational endeavors and also served as a professor of accounting and department head at New York University.

George Wilkinson. The British chartered accountant helped form the Federation of State Societies of Public Accountants in the United States of America in 1902. That organization in 1905 merged with the group that eventually became known as the AICPA. He also was a principal organizer of the first Congress of Accountants in 1904.

Doyle Williams. The founder in 1979 of the Leventhal School of Accounting at the University of Southern California, he also was one of the most influential members of the faculty at the University of Arkansas and serves as executive director of the Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program, which is administered through the AICPA Foundation.

Arthur Wyatt. He chaired the International Accounting Standards Committee from 1990 to 1993 and has been credited with paving the way for a new era of global cooperation in the development of accounting standards. The University of Illinois professor and Arthur Andersen partner also served two years on FASB and was AAA president.

Mary T. Washington Wylie. She became the first African-American female CPA in 1943 and helped found the Chicago firm Washington, Pittman & McKeever LLC. She opened her accounting business in her basement while she was a student at Northwestern University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business in 1941.

Arthur Young. A native of Scotland, he moved to the United States in 1890 to pursue a career in accounting and started his eponymous firm with his brother Stanley in 1906. He served clients as a business adviser as well as an accountant. His firm started a staff school in the 1920s and was the first to recruit on college campuses in the 1930s.

Stephen Zeff. The Tulane and Rice University professor undertook the first comparative study of accounting standard-setting processes in the United States, Canada, England, and Mexico for a lecture and monograph published in 1972. He became a prolific writer and lecturer on international accounting issues.

Ken Tysiac is a JofA senior editor. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact him at ktysiac@aicpa.org or 919-402-2112.

Photo credits:

  • George Anderson: Photo courtesy of Anderson Zurmuehlen
  • Donaldson Brown: Photo courtesy of General Motors Heritage Center
  • Henry Rand Hatfield: Photo courtesy of Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
  • Charles Horngren: Photo courtesy of Stanford University Graduate School of Business
  • Bert Mitchell: Photo courtesy of Mitchell & Titus
  • Robert Montgomery: Photo courtesy of Montgomery Botanical Center
  • Elmer Staats: Photo courtesy of U.S. Government Accountability Office

 

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