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Accountants in academia.

Academia holds a certain attraction. What draws CPAs to it? Here are four who made the leap.


A former chairman of the AICPA board of directors, Ivan Bull was managing partner of McGladrey, Hendrickson & Co. and nearing 60 when he decided to teach.

"I wanted to do something entirely different that would command my full energy and attention. I wanted to understand why the academic and practice worlds of accounting had drifted so far apart. And I wanted to know if my 58-year-old mind could grasp new concepts."

Grasping new concepts came to include pursuing a PhD degree for the next five years at the University of Illinois-Urbana. Today it includes not only the position of professor of accountancy but also director of the Office of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Bull also has found the usefulness he sought. "The work is rigorous, but it's exciting when students begin to see what you're saying. It also isn't bad when you see your research results in a journal."


The holder of the Frank Burke Chair in Taxation at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Jane Burns knew early she was meant to teach. She loved the four years she had spent with a local Indiana CPA firm, but when the chairman of the accounting department at Eastern Kentucky University invited her to teach a course, she knew within two months she'd found her calling. After teaching at Southern Illinois University, she went on to Pennsylvania State for her doctorate. She then taught at Indiana University before taking her current post.

Burns says although she loves teaching, it's a lot more work than public practice. Nevertheless, "academia is the perfect home for me."


After 17 years with Arthur Andersen & Co. in Houston and New Orleans, the last 7 as a partner, Bill Glezen realized he couldn't be a good family man and a good accounting firm partner simultaneously. So he pulled up roots and moved to the University of Arkansas to study for his MBA and PhD degrees--all to prepare for teaching. Today he holds the Walter B. Cole Chair of Accountancy.

"If you decide to go into it, go all the way and get the necessary degrees," Glezen advises. "Some CPA partners may have as much or more knowledge than some PhDs, but to fit into academic circles and perform good academic research, you need to have the appropriate academic credentials."


Brenda Birkett earned her MBA degree before starting her career as an accountant with the Internal Revenue Service. Later, after teaching part-time for two years, she saw she needed either to get a PhD and teach or to enter public or private practice.

Both career paths were attractive. The deciding factor was the minority student doctoral fellowship the AICPA offered her.

With no regrets for the road not taken, Birkett today is director of the School of Accountancy at Southern University at Baton Rouge. Her career is very satisfying because she enjoys helping students develop and reach their goals.

GLENN ALAN CHENEY is a free-lance writer based in Connecticut.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Accounting Education
Author:Cheney, Glen Alan
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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