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Jun 23, 2021

Six Gies faculty win top awards from American Accounting Association

Four Gies College of Business faculty have earned the 2021 Innovation in Accounting Education Award from the American Accounting Association (AAA) for their innovation “The University of Illinois Data Analytics Courses.” Assistant Professor of Accountancy Vic Anand, Teaching Associate Professor of Accountancy Joshua Herbold, Professor of Accountancy Jessen Hobson, and Assistant Professor of Accountancy Kim I. Mendoza helped create two data analytics courses in accountancy, which go beyond coding to connect key skills to accounting. The award, which is sponsored by the Ernst & Young Foundation, was specifically presented for two courses in Gies’ master’s in accounting analytics track – Data Analytics Foundations for Accountancy and Data Analytics Applications in Accountancy.

“We’ve tried really hard to make sure that everything we do relates back to accounting and business,” said Herbold. “Some analytics courses can get a bit ‘code-heavy’, with more emphasis on the coding itself instead of on the application of the concepts to accounting and business questions—we want to avoid that problem. For all the concepts we teach, we always come back to, ‘What is the business question this could help us answer?’”

In ACCY 570 (Data Analytics Foundations for Accountancy), students learn basic data analytics concepts using Python. The course provides fundamental knowledge of how to acquire, organize, synthesize and analyze volumes of data to address questions and problems. There’s no textbook for a course like this, so Gies faculty wrote all the course materials, including homework and assessment activities.

The next course in the sequence is ACCY 575 (Data Analytics Applications in Accountancy), where students take analytics even further. In this case-based course, students build on the foundational material from ACCY 570 to investigate accounting and business issues. Students also learn new material while completing the case studies, and the immediate application of the foundational concepts and the new material helps students see how they can use data to answer business questions.

Much of the course material that has been developed for this sequence is sourced from content freely available to students and faculty at other colleges and universities through the University of Illinois-Deloitte Foundation Center for Business Analytics, and additional materials such as case studies are frequently being added.

“Since data analytics is such a new topic, most accountancy faculty did not formally study it in school,” said Hobson, director of the University of Illinois-Deloitte Foundation Center for Business Analytics. “There is a great need for accountancy faculty to upskill in this area, and we’re helping fill that need by providing these course materials for free to any faculty who would like to use them.”

The award continues Gies Accountancy’s 100+ year history of being a continuous innovator in accounting curriculum in undergraduate and graduate programming. Gies Business was the first school to offer a PhD in accounting in 1936 and is home to the Vernon K. Zimmerman Center for International Education and Research in Accounting. Gies launched Project Discovery – a revolutionary projects-based curriculum in 1997, and when the state of Illinois moved to institute a 150-hour requirement for the CPA beginning in 2001, Gies established a fifth-year Master of Accounting Science program with a strong CPA preparation focus. Then in 2017, the College integrated data analytics across all accounting programs.

The annual Innovation in Accounting Education Award is intended to encourage innovation and improvement in accounting education. It recognizes significant programmatic changes or a significant activity, concept, or set of educational materials. Submissions are judged by their innovation, demonstrated educational benefits, and adaptability by other academic institutions or to other situations.

Abdel-khalik wins AAA’s Outstanding Educator Award

Rashad Abdel Khalik3A. Rashad Abdel-khalik, the V.K. Zimmerman Professor of International Accounting at Gies College of Business, has been named a recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Accounting Educator Award by the American Accounting Association (AAA).

Abdel-khalik, who joined Gies College of Business in 2000, has published research in several major accounting journals, including The Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting Research, and Contemporary Accounting Research. His current interest is reflected in his recently published books: Accounting for Risk, Hedging and Complex Contracts (Routledge, 2013) and BRAZEN: Big Banks, Swap Mania and the Fallout (World Scientific, 2019). He was the founding editor of the Journal of Accounting Literature, and the senior Editor of The Accounting Review (1990-1994). Starting 2001, he became the senior Editor of the International Journal of Accounting (2001-present) and its companion The Illinois Accounting Research Symposia. He made presentations at more than 120 universities worldwide. 

Persson wins AAA’s Thomas J. Burns Biographical Research Award

Martin Persson3Gies Assistant Professor of Accountancy Martin Persson has been selected as a recipient of the 2021 Thomas J. Burns Biographical Research Award by the AAH section of the American Accounting Association (AAA). The award was given for Persson’s project, “Accounting Thought and Practice Reform – Ray Chambers’ Odyssey”, with Frank Clarke (The University of Newcastle - Australia) and Graeme William Dean (University of Sydney).

An accounting historian, Persson’s goal is to continue to use history to inform students and industry leaders today. He says it’s important to look at how a term like “fair value,” for example, has evolved or why annual reports have grown from a one-page report to a tome.

The Academy of Accounting Historians annually honors an individual as the recipient of the Thomas J. Burns Biographical Research Award. Dr. Thomas J. Burns, for whom the award is named, was a long-time professor at Ohio State University and a past president of the Academy of Accounting Historians. The award is given for outstanding biographical research in the discipline of accountancy and can be for a single publication or for a lifetime of biographical work.