Emeritus Dean and Professor Recognized with Highest Accounting Educator Honor

July 5, 2018

The American Accounting Association (AAA) has announced Jan R. Williams as its 2018 Outstanding Accounting Educator. The award recognizes Williams’ full portfolio of achievements in teaching, research and professional involvement.

“This is the highest outstanding faculty award the AAA gives out,” says Bruce Behn, former AAA president and associate dean for graduate and executive education at the Haslam College of Business. “The list of previous winners is the who’s who of accounting faculty.  It is an amazing honor for Jan to be part of this group.”

Williams spent 36 years at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, serving 13 years as dean of the college. In addition, he held the positions of associate dean and head of the accounting and information management department, as well as teaching at every degree level.

“Once I arrived at UT in 1977, I never gave serious thought to moving elsewhere,” Williams says. “The flexibility within the organization that allowed me to do different things over the years was a major factor in my being at UT so long. I feel like I had several ‘mini careers’ during my time there.”

Williams held leadership positions as president of the AAA, chair of the board of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB) and national president of Beta Alpha Psi. He also was a member of the Pathways Commission, which was tasked with shaping the future of accounting education to align with the changing profession.

Terry Neal, current head of the Department of Accounting and Information Management, notes that the award reflects Williams’ achievements in these various roles. 

“It serves as a tremendous recognition of the impact that Jan’s leadership has had on the accounting profession and academia beyond the walls of UT,” he says.

In addition to his teaching and service, Williams has co-authored three books and published more than 125 articles on corporate financial reporting and accounting and business education. To date, he has received more than 20 awards and other honors for outstanding teaching, service and leadership. He officially retired from Haslam in 2013 and currently serves as executive-in-residence at Belmont University in Nashville.

“The AAA has been an important part of my career, starting when I joined as a Ph.D. student in the 1960s,” Williams says. “Receiving the AAA’s Outstanding Accounting Educator award is a tremendous honor, and a recognition I never expected. My involvement in the AAA has been a key factor in attempting to build bridges between accounting education and practice, which I consider vital for both.”

Williams will receive the award, alongside Mahendra R. Gujarathi of Bentley University, on August 7 at the AAA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.  Recipients are honored at the event, which is sponsored by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Foundation, with unique glass art pieces, citations and a $2,500 prize for each. There also is an additional $2,500 donation given to the AAA on behalf of each recipient.