ATA Award Recipients
Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Tax Educator Award
The Sommerfeld Award was created by an ATA resolution in August, 1995, to remember one of the best in our profession. Ray touched the lives of many ATA members, but as the years go by, the ATA wants to ensure that others have some idea of who Ray was. To that end, the ATA created a page of memories of Ray. If you have memories to add to the collection, please send them to the ATA webmaster.
At its August meeting the ATA Board of Trustees approved the resolution appearing below concerning Prof. Ray M. Sommerfeld, who died in a drowning accident on Lake Travis outside Austin, TX on August 8, 1995. The ATA membership approved the resolution at its annual business meeting.
In as much as Ray M. Sommerfeld was:
A founding member of the American Taxation Assn. (ATA),
The ATA's 1975-76 President, and a leader in the creation of its journal
In as much as Ray M. Sommerfeld was:
A leader in designing and building an academic discipline to prepare students for professional careers in taxation,
An innovator in designing a conceptual approach to teaching the intricate rules of taxation, and
A mentor to countless individuals
In as much as Ray M. Sommerfeld was:
The first recipient of the ATA's Outstanding Tax Educator Award, named in his honor
The Board of Trustees and the membership of the ATA extend deepest sympathy to the Sommerfeld Family.
Adopted Orlando, Florida, August 14, 1995
The Late Professor Ray M. Sommerfeld, 1933-1995
Biographical Information (Excerpts)
Ph.D, Economics, The University of Iowa, 1963
M.A., Accounting, The University of Iowa, 1957
B.S.C. with highest distinction, Commerce, The University of Iowa, 1956
C.P.A., Texas, 1959
Faculty member, The University of Texas at Austin, 1963--1976, 1978--1993
Holder of James L. Bayless/Rauscher Pierce Refsnes, Inc. Chair in Business
Administration at the time of his retirement
Partner and National Director of Tax Education, Arthur Young & Company, Reston, VA, 1976--1978
Audit Officer, U.S. Air Force, 1957--1960
Jack G. Taylor Teaching Excellence Award, University of Texas at Austin, 1966
Graduate Business Council Teaching Excellence Awards, University of Texas at Austin, 1976, 1983, 1984
American Taxation Assn., Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Educator Award (first recipient), 1993
American Accounting Assn., Outstanding Educator Award, 1994
American Accounting Assn., Vice President, 1982--1984, President Elect, 1985--1986, President, 1986--1987
American Taxation Assn., President, 1975--1976
Accounting Education Change Commission, member, 1989--1992
AICPA National Tax Education Steering Committee, member, 1977--1983
IRS Commissioner’s Advisory Committee, member, 1981--1982
Austin Chapter of Texas State Society of CPAs, President, 1975--1976
Faculty Senate, University of Texas at Austin, 1979--1981, 1986--1988
University Council, University of Texas at Austin, 1979--1981, 1986--1988
Co-author with Hershel M. Anderson and Horace R. Brock, Introduction to Taxation, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, various editions, beginning in 1969
Co-author with Hershel M. Anderson, Horace R. Brock, and John O. Everett, HBJ Federal Tax Course, three editions, beginning in 1984
Co-author with Silvia Madeo, Betty Jackson, and Ken Anderson, Concepts of Taxation, 1993
Co-author with G. Fred Streuling, Tax Research Techniques, AICPA, three editions, beginning in 1976
Federal Taxes and Management Decisions, various editions, beginning in 1974
Among his fifteen articles, “Taxation: Education’s Orphan,” The Journal of Accountancy 112, December 1966, pp. 38--44
Survived by spouse Barbara, daughters Andrea and Kristin, a grandson and a granddaughter
AMERICAN TAXATION ASSOCIATION
1993 Announcement of the Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Tax Educator Award
First recipient (1993): Ray M. Sommerfeld; presented by Fred Streuling
As chair of the 1992/93 ATA Awards Committee, it is my privilege today to announce the creation of the Outstanding Tax Educator Award, sponsored jointly by the American Taxation Association and Ernst & Young. The idea of the award was presented by our committee in executive session to the ATA Board of Trustees at the 1993 Mid-year Meeting in Chicago where it received unanimous approval.
Taxation has matured into a separate and distinct field of study and today is recognized as such by both academicians and practitioners. At times the road to achieve such stature has been a rocky one. The formation of the American Taxation Association, nineteen years ago in New Orleans, significantly contributed towards recognition and acceptance. However, we especially have to thank individuals who staked their vision, creativity, energy, and, at times, their professional reputation to achieve such recognition. Therefore, our committee believes that the time has come when we should recognize, honor, and reward outstanding contributions by faculty members who, through their examples and diligent service have helped bring stature and prominence to our profession.
Our committee has selected an individual as the first recipient of the Outstanding Educator Award, who, throughout a distinguished career, has earned respect and admiration from students, academicians, and practitioners. As a young professor he resolved that students, who were interested in taxation as a professional career, deserved to be properly educated. Although others had voiced similar thoughts, he went past the idea stage and built one of the most successful graduate tax programs in the country and inspired the creation of similar programs at other universities. This occurred at a time when professors received little formal education in taxation during their graduate studies. And so to his young colleagues, whom he hired to assist him, he became a tutor and mentor in the truest sense. He shared his creative genius and wealth of teaching experiences with his colleagues, even to the extent that he would endure the drudgery of attending their classes to give moral support and provide valuable suggestions. They also received help and encouragement with research and writing projects.
Unlike some of us, who hold on to old ideas a little too long, he constantly experimented with new ideas. As a result, he broke new ground by publishing one of the first readable tax texts. He demanded superior performances from his students and he had a knack of making them like him for it. Over the years he shared unique approaches to teach taxation, such as using diagrams of chemistry beakers to explain the phenomenon of capital gains and losses; and when you attended his classroom lectures you left exited and fed, never feeling that stale information had been dispensed.
His abilities and accomplishments became recognized by the practicing professionals and about midway through his career he became a partner with Arthur Young & Company responsible for the firm's tax training. After accomplishing what he had set out to do, he returned to his first love, namely academics.
Over the years he rendered valuable service in professional organizations such as the AICPA, the ATA, and the AAA. He served as ATA President from 1975 to 1976, led the initial effort to create the Journal of the American Taxation Association, and was honored by his peers as the 1986-87 President of the American Accounting Association. Not so long ago, he was honored by being appointed to the Accounting Education Change Commission.
An accomplishment which has elevated my respect for him especially, has been his ability, despite numerous offers and opportunities, to elude with grace and dignity the temptation of becoming a department chair, dean or, heaven help, a university administrator with whom he had little patience. Yet they valued his judgement and his opinion and when it was time to select a new dean, football coach, or university president, he usually appeared as a member of the selection committee.
If my laudatory comments have sounded somewhat like an obituary, it may perhaps be appropriate, since the word is that our honoree, Ray M. Sommerfeld has decided to give it all up and he has officially retired from the University of Texas. Ray, your retirement will be well deserved but a great loss to all of us; and you will be missed.
Ray, will you please join me here on the stand.
It is my honor to present to you this glass sculpture, which, we hope, will assume a prominent perch in your home. The artist was informed that the piece was to represent lifetime achievement and that the recipient had a great love for sailing. As you glance at it in years to come, and we trust there will be many, we hope it will remind you of our respect, admiration and love for you and the contributions you have made to all of us as we have tried to sail and navigate the waters of our profession.
In conclusion, I would like to make two additional announcements.
First, the Board of Trustees has approved our committee's recommendation that the Outstanding Educator Award shall henceforth be known as the Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Educator Award.
Second, it is our committee's intent that copies of this sculpture will be awarded to future recipients of the Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Educators Award.
------------------------------- As I announced initially, this award is co-sponsored by the ATA and Ernst & Young. I now invite Ray McGowen, Ernst & Young's National Director of Tax Human Resources representing the Ernst & Young Foundation, to make an additional presentation.
Dear ATA Members and Colleagues,
The American Taxation Association (ATA) is home to a broad group of members with interests in tax research, policy, practice, and education. We are transitioning out of the pandemic and reconnecting in person with our colleagues. We are also focusing on expanding our outreach. Most notably, we should be proud that the ATA is a leader within the AAA by being the first section to establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to reach out to underrepresented minorities and PhD students, and encourage their attendance and participation at our conferences and association. I especially thank members Kirsten Cook and Erin Towery for their service in setting up the ATA DEI Committee. I also thank Shirley Dennis-Escoffier for her continued financial support through the Marty Escoffier Memorial Fund to support doctoral students broadly and, now, backing DEI initiatives as well through the fund. We are especially grateful to Shirley for her steadfast support as we expand our ability to ensure a bright and inclusive future for all our members.
The 35th Annual American Taxation Association (ATA) Midyear Meeting
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The Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC
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