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    Who helped you become the professor you are today?
    blog entry posted May 7, 2010 by Julie Smith David, last edited February 10, 2012 
    4191 Views, 8 Comments
    Who helped you become the professor you are today?

    During the Conference for Teaching and Learning in Accounting sessions at this year's Regional meetings, Bob Allen has been leading a discussion about "Rediscovering your Passion for Teaching," and all who have attended have had the pleasure of reflecting on the people who have influenced our lives and helped us to become the professors we are today.  I have been lucky enough to have particpated in this workshop three times - and each time I have been struck by how moving it is to remember why I got into this business - and how lucky we all are to have been to have been touched by really important people - from elementary school through graduate school!

    Members of the Western region spent a lot of time sharing stories of their "inspirations," and during the discussion we realized that it would be great if we could capture these, and that the stories themselves helped us all "rediscover" ourselves. 

    In response, we have created the "Inspirational Hall of Fame" in the AAACommons.  I encourage all of you to think about your lives, and then share the stories of the people who have made a difference.  The result will be a great community resource that we can help us all become even better professors!

    Click here to get share your inspiration!



    • Courtney Crosson

      I am a grad student and not a member of AAA yet and really appreciate the opportunity to engage in the AAACommons.  AAA members inspire me!

    • Robert E Jensen

      In one way or another I've been inspired by virtually all the writings of The Accounting Hall of Fame --- 
      In some fortunate instances I've had personal relationships with some of the hall of famers. Special thanks to James Don Edwards, Herb Miller, Denny Beresford, Yuji Ijiri, Joel Demski, Bill Beaver, and Steve Zeff. Yuji was a professor in my doctoral studies at Stanford, and Steve challenged with assignments as a special assistant (to help resolve referee disputes) when he was editor of The Accounting Review. Denny has just been a life long hero and close friend.

      And while I spent two years in a post-doctoral think tank on the Stanford campus, I want to thank Joel Demski and Bill Beaver for opening my eyes to new trends in accounting research.

      Herb Miller was a visiting professor at Stanford in my last year of doctoral studies. He convinced me to start you my faculty career at top research university rather than a retirement university where I could ski and raise horses. I haven't been interested in skiing or horses since I followed his advice. My first boss was Don Edwards who has been a life long inspiration and role model with respect to the value of enduring friendship.

      There are also those that I think should be in the Hall of Fame that have not yet been inducted, including Abe Brillof and two of my former students Paul Pacter and Bill Kinney. They most certainly become hall of famers in the near future, at least I hope so.

      Bob Jensen


    • Robert E Jensen

      Jagdish Gangolly clued me in on this link
      Tom Lehrer on the great Russian mathgematician Lobachevsky:


    • Robert E Jensen

      My Life Beyond the Numbers by James Don Edwards

      On June 14, 2010 (today) I opened an unexpected package from James Don Edwards that totally surprised me.
      The book inside the package was entitled My Life Beyond the Numbers (ISBN 978-0-615-36164-2, March 2010)

      James Don is the best "boss" I ever had --- while I was a newly minted assistant professor at Michigan State University. In spite of my youth and inexperience he gave me two doctoral seminars to teach, possibly because I was an accountics researcher in those days when accountics research was being revived after over 60 years of dormancy. James Don was never an accountics professor, but he anticipated how accountics would become dominant in academic accountancy henceforth and perhaps forever more ---

      You can read the Hall of Fame entry for James Don Edwards at Click Here

      His many honors and awards include an honorary doctorate from the University of Paris.

      In 1998, he was invited to the Georgia House of Representatives to hear a resolution honoring him and recognizing his contributions to the field of accounting and the State of Georgia. The University of Georgia Foundation recently established a Chair of Corporate Accounting Policy in his honor ---

      One of his areas of expertise is the history of the accounting profession in the United States.

      I've not yet read his latest book I just received, but I'm looking forward to chapters like "Oxford and Sir Edward Heath."
      Don was on a first name basis with some of the most powerful people in the world.
      He also served tirelessly for the American Accounting Association, including serving as its President 1970-71.

      During a period when the University of Michigan (in the shadows of Bill Paton)  totally dominated Michigan State University in doctoral programs and faculty research in accountancy, James Don raised the money and recruited some the outstanding doctoral students in our history. To name a few who joined the Academy at MSU we have Roger Hermanson, Gene Comiskey, Paul Pacter, Bill Kinney, Bob May, Jim McKeown, Barry Cushing, and others too numerous to mention here. And there were of course other outstanding faculty and doctoral students he recruited for the University of Georgia.

      I am proud to consider James Don Edwards one of my very best friends. I wish he and Clara an long and happy life, and I especially wish Clara a total successful recovery from her new total hip. Her lovely picture is on the cover of the book alongside her partner in life. Clara is an original Iron Magnolia.

      • Judy Cothern

        As a staff member of AAA, I totally look forward to seeing Professor Edwards at each Annual Meeting. He sparks up the day and gives the best hugs!

    • Robert E Jensen

      HI David,

      The publisher is listed in the book as Terrill Publishing, but I cannot find this company’s Web page. Don owns the copyright. The name Terrill appears in his genealogy, which makes me suspicious.

      I’ve contacted Don for more details. This is a very, very personal book (in most ways a scrap book) that he might’ve paid to have published with only a very limited number of copies for friends. I really do not know at this point and will wait for his reply.

      The book has quite a bit about Don’s international travels from going to China as a Marine in WW II to visiting scholar lecturing sabbaticals in Italy and Oxford plus shorter stints all over the world. Don had a bold way of working his way into private and public sector executive suites, including a major stint on Andersen’s Board that oversaw the acrimonious split of Andersen into Andersen Consulting and Andersen’s mainline accounting division.

      Don is a powerful man with an equally powerful ego. He’s a wealthy man who invested well and enjoyed dining in world palaces yet has always lived in humble houses well below what he could afford. He dominates conversations and yet remembers every word you squeeze into the conversation. He has a dominant presence whenever he’s interacting with people. If he’d been a literature professor he would’ve become a university president.

      Don is neither a typical scholar nor researcher, but he’s worked very well in joint projects (books and papers and services) with people who respected the skills he brought to the table, especially leadership skills and fund raising skills.

      One thing I always admired about Don and Clara is that their friends were and still are always welcome at their home and at their table. When I first started working at MSU, we often made random and unannounced visits to their home and felt genuinely welcome on each and every visit. They’re the type of people who will beg you to stay for dinner.

      Don is one of those people who, when the time comes for his funeral, hundreds upon hundreds of former students, former colleagues, former working partners, and many, many friends will show up from all over the world.

      Fortunately Don and Clara are still in very good health and will probably attend many more AAA annual meetings for years to come, I don’t think he and Clara have ever missed one AAA annual meeting in over five decades.

      Don himself really reads like the personal scrapbook he’s written. He was a born leader who perhaps missed his calling to be a university president. But he succeeded greatly in promoting accountancy in the world’s Academy.

      He’s also a religious man who prefers ice cream to the demon rum. Generally you can’t take the Baptist upbringing out of the boy or man. In his book Don relates about the exceptional wines offered in the home (palace) of Baron Edmund Rothschild in Switzerland. But you know that down deep James Don Edwards and Clara would’ve preferred being offered homemade ice cream from a Louisiana bayou.

      Don is still active in a golf foursome that still includes Accounting Hall of Famers Herb Miller and Denny Beresford, both of whom became affiliated with the University of Georgia because of abiding friendships with their leader Don Edwards.

    • Robert E Jensen

      June 15, Reply from Bob Jensen

      Hi David,

      Don Edwards just telephoned me and told me a bit about the history of this book. It was a book that his grandchildren begged him to write. He privately published enough copies to send to some friends and family.

      But in this telephone call I persuaded him to contact a Web specialist at the University of Georgia (where he still goes into the office three times a week). I suggested that the book be saved in as a PDF file and then served up by the University of Georgia.

      Don is now thinking about having the book served up on a Web site. He’s taking time to think about it since it was not meant to be available to anybody other than friends and family. However, knowing Don like I do, I think he will follow up on my suggestion.

      I, of course, will broadcast the link to the world once there is a link, because I respect Don both as a friend and as a leader of our craft.

      Bob Jensen

    • Robert E Jensen


      Some  Jensen History
      On August 2, 2010 in San Francisco I was invited to make a short speech at the Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Section Breakfast. Afterwards a couple of you questioned some of the dates I gave to events in my life. The events I mentioned were true, but the dates were way off --- something I can only attribute to old age and extemporaneous speaking.

      For some unknown reason I decided to divert from my prepared remarks while approaching the podium on August 2. I had not planned to talk about the "game changer" in my professional life, but suddenly I was talking about the big game changer in my life. Between 1966 and 1990 I was a lousy teacher focused only on three performance scores for my work --- the number of accountics research working papers (over 200 by 1990), the number of invited out-of-town research presentations, and the number of refereed publications (about 50 by 1990) ---

      My research rather than my teaching paid off handsomely when I became the Nicolas M. Salgo Professor of Accounting at the University of Maine in 1968, received a Guggenheim Fellowship for two think tank years (1971/72 and 1973/74) at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford University), became the the KPMG Professor of Accounting at Florida State University in 1978, and ultimately became the Jesse H. Jones Professor of Business at Trinity University in 1982. My purpose here is not to brag. My purpose is to point out that research and publication outweighed every other criterion to my "success" prior to 1990 and made me what I think was overpaid between 1966 and 1990.

      It was in the April 1990 (corrected date) when the game changer took place in my life. I was invited, along with about 40 other accounting professors in the State of Texas, by Prentice-Hall to attend an expense-paid seminar in Dallas on "How to Improve Your Teaching." The presentations on how to improve my teaching were uninspiring for nearly a day and a half until the very last presentation of the seminar --- the game changer in my life that instantly changed my entire focus from accountics research game playing to teaching, learning, and technology.

      The game changer in my life was a presentation by Darrell Ward.--- 
      Darrell resigned from the Computer Science Department at the University of North Texas  in the late 1980s to form HyperGraphics Corporation, HyperGraphics first built upon the old HyperCard seminal slide presentation software for the Apple II computers and added an entire non-linear navigation system and course management system for learning and assessment of learning. I don't think the Apple II version was all that successful, but when Darrill developed Hypergraphics for the DOS-based PC, HyperGraphics had considerable success.

      I think my mouth was open during Darrell's entire presentation. Afterwards I went down and asked how I could buy the DOS-based HyperGraphics software. Darrill said that I could buy the stack of floppy disks and an instruction manual for $850 on the spot. I took out a check (my wife only allows me to carry one check) from my bill fold and wrote out a check for $850.

      During the flight home from Dallas it then dawned on me that I did not own a PC. So instead of taking a taxi home from the San Antonio Airport, I took cab to a store called CompuAdd. There I paid over $2,000 for my first PC and projection panel. Until then I was always a snobby main frame guy (having taught FORTRAN, COBAL, and SPSS for the main frame) who, like IBM, thought that the the PC was simply a child's toy. After arriving home from the CompuAdd store I had to explain to my wife how I spent $3,000 on my way home from Dallas. Since I used my only check to buy the HyperGraphics software, I had to use a Visa card to buy the PC and an overhead panel.

      In the summer of 1990 (corrected date) I worked about 15 hours a day programming my first course (a managerial accounting course) in HyperGraphics. In September of 1990 I unveiled my course to some of my Trinity University colleagues in a totally dark room using one of those terrible projection panels sitting on top of an overhead projector. The early panels converted all the color pictures to gray scale and were dim to read. But I could still demo what I thought was really cool --- nonlinear navigation for asynchronous learning and graphics/equation building in stages for student learning of complex details asynchronously. My colleagues departed shaking their heads and whispering that Jensen must be nuts.

      It was October 4-5, 1990 (corrected date) when I made my first away-from-home dog and pony show on featuring HyperGraphics technology --- at the University of Wisconsin. HyperGraphics software pretty much died after Windows replaced the DOS operating system in PCs. I then shifted my managerial accounting and accounting theory courses to ToolBooks for the PC. My out-of-town dog and pony shows really commenced to roll when my university hosts invested in those old three-barrel color projectors that predated LCD projectors. I eventually made hundreds of presentations of HyperGraphics and then ToolBooks on college campuses in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Holland, and the United Kingdom (where I lugged my full PC and LCD projector between five campuses as the European Accounting Association Visiting Professor). Many of my campus visits and topics are listed at

      Today I would probably rely more on video for asynchronous learning ---

      You can read about the history of HyperGraphics, ToolBook, Authorware, and the many other course authoring and management software systems (most of which died either early or prolonged deaths) at

      The important game changer for me in April 1990 is that I belatedly commenced to think about how students learn and more importantly how I could become a better teacher (or rather learning manager)  by helping students study complicated material on their own asynchronously with the ability to keep replaying at their own learning paces. I even wrote an early 1994 book on learning technology with the aid of Petrea Sandlin as my editor ---

      My thoughts about how students learn are summarized in two evolving papers at:

      Evolving Papers on Learning

      My evolving education technology threads are at

      My life seems to have taken on more meaning since I focused more on my students and how they learn.