TO THE ACCOUNTING HALL OF FAME
The induction ceremony took place during the August 2023 Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.
Four new members of The Accounting Hall of Fame were inducted by the American Accounting Association (AAA) on August 8, 2023, during the organization’s Annual Meeting. The Accounting Hall of Fame originated at The Ohio State University in 1950 and has inducted 113 members since its inception. In 2017, the operations of The Accounting Hall of Fame were assumed by the AAA.
For 2023, the four inductees represent a diverse group of accounting thought leaders from both practice and educational backgrounds, according to Mary S. Stone, a past president of the AAA who chairs The Accounting Hall of Fame Committee. The nomination process engaged members of The Accounting Hall of Fame, the AAA, and other professional accounting organizations. This year’s inductees, Robert Kalb Elliott (1941-2022), William Mitchell Lybrand (1867-1960), Aulana Louise Peters, and Gordon Peter Wilson (1946-2020) are profiled in the following information.
Robert Kalb Elliott (1941-2022)Although he had “no inkling he would become an accountant” while studying mathematics as an undergraduate at Harvard College, Robert K. (Bob) Elliott became a visionary leader, committed to increasing the relevance of the services provided by Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) while seeking to make that community more diverse. After receiving an MBA from the Rutgers Business School, his career took a path toward accountancy. The international firm KPMG was his base and professional home from 1964-2001. He served as an advisor to six Chairs of the Firm.
Known for his direct, intellectual, and outspoken manner, he viewed “accounting as the information infrastructure that permits resources to flow to their highest and best uses,” a necessary but not sufficient condition for a well-running economy. Elliott contributed significantly to widely-read and discussed reports including the Report of The Advisory Committee on Capital Formation and Regulatory Processes (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 1996); Improving Business Reporting – A Customer Focus: Meeting the Information Needs of Investors and Creditors (AICPA, 1994); and The Measurement of Corporate Social Performance (AICPA, 1977). During his career, Elliott contributed to or solely authored more than 100 articles and books. In recognition of his contributions to the accounting literature, Elliott received the American Accounting Association’s 1992 AICPA Wildman Award. Consistent with his scholarly vision, he convinced the KPMG Foundation to create Research Opportunities in Auditing, a program designed to enable research relevant to the accounting profession. In 2002, the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association chose him to receive its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Elliott envisioned an accountancy “profession that needed to modernize.” He was often far ahead of his contemporaries’ views. In 1997, he was awarded the AICPA’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Service. Focused on the future of the profession, Elliott served on the Strategic Planning Committee and the Special Committee on Assurance Services (the Elliott Committee) of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and was Board Chair of the AICPA from 1999-2000.
In his first address as Board Chair to the leadership of the AICPA, he noted that an accounting system was the nervous system of an enterprise that permits the enterprise to perceive and act. Speaking on the eve of the new millennium he said: “I foresee that CPAs will understand the risks and opportunities of the global economy and profit from the international services.” He added: "CPAs will identify and deploy knowledge needed for strategic planning and investments, for marketing decisions, for measuring effectiveness – all this and more.”
Consistent with his focus on the future of the profession, Elliott was a leading proponent of increasing the diversity of the profession. He and his KPMG partner colleague Bernie Milano reasoned that the most expedient way to increase the number of minority students entering the profession was to increase the number of minority educators teaching and conducting research in colleges of business. With the support of the KPMG Foundation and Milano’s leadership, the PhD Project has been credited with quintupling the number of PhD business school minority faculty and, in turn, increasing the number of graduates entering and succeeding in the accounting profession.
Elliott and his wife Lee, childhood friends, were married for 59 years. Their sons David and Don and their wives plus grandson Maxim and immediate family are the genealogical heritage of Robert K. Elliott, the 114th member of The Accounting Hall of Fame.
William Mitchell Lybrand (1867-1960) William Mitchell Lybrand was the son of George and Sarah Ann (Aldred) Lybrand. George was a prominent Methodist minister in Philadelphia, PA. Lybrand married Lenore Dauphina (Montgomery) and they had no children. He contributed to the early practice of cost and public accounting as a charter member of the National Association of Cost Accountants, now the IMA, and as a partner in Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery, a public accounting firm that became part of Coopers & Lybrand and subsequently PricewaterhouseCoopers, now PwC.
William Mitchell Lybrand was the son of George and Sarah Ann (Aldred) Lybrand. George was a prominent Methodist minister in Philadelphia, PA. Lybrand married Lenore Dauphina (Montgomery) and they had no children. He contributed to the early practice of cost and public accounting as a charter member of the National Association of Cost Accountants, now the IMA, and as a partner in Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery, a public accounting firm that became part of Coopers & Lybrand and subsequently PricewaterhouseCoopers, now PwC.
Lybrand’s accounting education began as a clerk with Bement and Daughtery, a machine tool company that had adopted a complete cost accounting system. After promotion to assistant bookkeeper, he learned the intricacies of the system from its developer, the legendary John Francis. William was early among those who recognized the importance of integrating cost information with the full accounting system.
He was employed by the public accounting firm of Heins and Whelen and gained further knowledge about accounting and auditing. After four years, he became Heins’ junior partner, participating in organizing the public accounting profession in Pennsylvania. In 1898, along with, T. Edward Ross, Adam Ross, and Hall of Fame member, and brother-in-law, Robert Heister Montgomery, he formed Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery, which was a catalyst for a continuous improvement philosophy applied to the technical development of staff and was on the forefront of encouraging formalized education for accountants.
Lybrand was a foundational force in the creation of two professional organizations: the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs and the National Association of Cost Accountants (NACA). He served as treasurer and then president of the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs for two terms beginning in 1902. He also was the second president of NACA. His accounting experience and organizational ability enabled him to influence the operational success of NACA. He supported the technical bulletin series that later became the publication Management Accounting and now Strategic Finance.
Believing that for accounting to be viewed as a profession, formal education was vital. He taught accounting evening courses sponsored by the Pennsylvania Institute, for which he guaranteed to cover program deficits when adopted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Lybrand promoted cost accounting in presentations and conferences and made an agreement with Canadian accountants to cooperate on research, and publication of papers in business periodicals. His book, Accounting for Modern Corporations: Prepared Especially for the Instruction and Training of Students of the American School, was devoted to accounting education. Because of his commitment to education and to honor his work with NACA, in 1949 his partners in Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery established the Lybrand Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals that the IMA continues to award highly rated articles appearing in Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly.
William Mitchell Lybrand is the 115th member of The Accounting Hall of Fame.
Aulana Louise Peters
Born Aulana Louise Pharis in Shreveport Louisiana in 1941, the daughter of Clyde A. and Eula Mae (Faulkner) Pharis, Peters studied philosophy and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of New Rochelle (1963) and earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California in 1973. Although not an accountant, Peters has had a profound and sustained influence on accounting and auditing scholarship, professional practice, professional standard setting, and corporate governance. She is a retired partner with Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher LLP who focused on accountants’ liability and securities litigation. Her husband, Bruce, is a retired physician.
Among her distinctive service is her role as a Commissioner on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from 1984-1988. She was the first African American and the third woman to serve on the Commission. In 2003, the Association of Securities and Exchange Commission Alumni named her the 11th recipient of the William O. Douglas Award for having made significant contributions to the development of the Federal Securities Law, to the SEC, and the financial community. In 2008, she received the Horatio Alger Award, which recognizes dedicated civic, corporate, and cultural leaders who succeeded despite adversity. In 2010, she was awarded the Medal of Honor by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for distinguished service to the accounting profession by a non-accountant.
Peters’ ability to relate securities law to investors’ interests and the practicalities of accounting measurement and disclosure of risks made her a valuable contributor to the deliberations of the Financial Accounting Standards Board Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council (1989-1992), the Steering Committee for the Financial Accounting Standards Financial Reporting Project (1990-1992), AICPA Board of Directors and Governing Council (1992-1994), Panel on Audit Effectiveness (1998-2000), Public Company Accounting Oversight Board of the AICPA (2000-2002), International Federation of Accountants’ Public Interest Oversight Board for Auditing, Education and Professional Ethics Standards (2005-2012), and United States Comptroller General’s Accountability Advisory Council (2001-2020).
Her service on public company boards of directors has included manufacturing, financial, and aerospace corporations. Because of her understanding of the audit profession and her demonstrated commitment to the public interest, Peters testified before Congress in the legislative hearings prior to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. She subsequently served on the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s Advisory Council (2007-2013).
An early advocate of international accounting standards and for disclosure to investors of material information on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) matters and for the establishment of standards to guide those disclosures, she served as a director of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Foundation from 2013 to 2016.
Aulana Louise Peters is the 116th member of The Accounting Hall of Fame.
Gordon Peter Wilson (1946-2020)
Gordon Peter “Pete” Wilson held the Joseph L. Sweeney Chair of Accounting at Boston College. He was an exemplar of a master teacher and scholar who devoted his career to helping colleagues and members of the American Accounting Association become better accounting teachers and researchers. He earned his Ph.D. in Industrial Administration from Carnegie-Mellon University (1985). Before his appointment at Boston College in July 1997, he taught at Stanford University (1985-1989), Harvard University (1989-1994), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1994-1997).
First and foremost, Wilson was a master teacher who became a teacher-of-teachers, who inspired others to make a difference. His overarching goals were to help students and other educators develop robust conceptual frameworks to navigate complexity and uncertainty; build relationship skills that promote effective and rewarding interactions with others; and gain a passion for lifelong learning. The aim was a more prosperous society.
Evidence of students’ and colleagues’ respect for Wilson is provided by the many awards he earned: Distinguished Teaching Award (Stanford Business School, 1988); Teacher of the Year Award (MIT Sloan School of Management, 1995), the AAA Outstanding Educator Award (2005), Teaching with New Media Award (Boston College, 2009, 2010), AICPA Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award (2010), AAA Two-Year Section Life-Time Achievement in Accounting Education (2014), AAA Financial Accounting and Reporting Section Innovation in Accounting Education Award, and the J. Michael and Mary Anne Cook/Deloitte Foundation Prize (2016), the foremost recognition of an individual who consistently demonstrates the attributes of a superior teacher. When complimented on the many awards he had received, Wilson often responded that the students were largely responsible for the success of his classes. He described becoming a great teacher as a journey from me (the teacher) to we (the students and teacher). Many of his most popular and widely used educational materials were developed with his wife and collaborator Carolyn Ruth Wilson.
Wilson’s teaching philosophy and passion for student learning reached beyond the classroom. For example, he was the 2002-2003 President of the American Accounting Association, extending his influence to a national and global audience of accounting educators and professionals. This was amplified through his work on the Accounting Education Change Committee (1993-1996) and the Pathways Commission (2013).
Wilson’s lasting contributions to accounting research include seminal articles disentangling the differential contributions of earnings and cash flows to stock price reactions to a company’s annual report (e.g., “The Incremental Information Content of the Accrual and Funds Components of Earnings After Controlling for Earnings, The Accounting Review, April 1987) and showing the magnitude and timing of corporate decisions associated with major changes in tax regulation (e.g., “Tax Planning, Regulatory Capital, and Financial Reporting Strategy for Commercial Banks, Review of Financial Studies, 1990 with Myron Scholes and Mark Wolfson). He supervised the Ph.D. dissertation of six students. His influence was evidenced in his work as a member of faculty for sixteen AAA/Deloitte Foundation/J. Michael Cook Doctoral Consortia.
Upon the award of emeritus status at Boston College, he and Carolyn moved to Tampa, Florida to be closer to family.
Gordon Peter Wilson is the 117th member of The Accounting Hall of Fame.
About the American Accounting Association
Promoting excellence in accounting education, research, and practice, the American Accounting Association (AAA) is the largest community of accountants in academia. Founded in 1916, we have a rich and reputable history built on leading-edge research and publications. The diversity of our membership creates a fertile environment for collaboration and innovation. Collectively, we shape the future of accounting through teaching, research, and a powerful network, ensuring our position as thought leaders in accounting. For more information about the AAA, please visit http://aaahq.org
The Accounting Hall of Fame was established at The Ohio State University in 1950.
The Accounting Hall of Fame honors accountants who have made, or are making, significant contributions to the advancement of accounting since the beginning of the 20th century. Since its establishment in 1950, 117 leading accountants have been elected to the Hall of Fame.