Edmund Lowell Jenkins
Distinguished by important contributions to the accounting profession, this man of integrity has worked tirelessly to serve the investing public through the development of high-quality business and financial reporting standards. He was born in 1935 and raised in East Lansing, Michigan, one of two children of Ben and Helen Jenkins. His father was a biologist for the Michigan State Conservation Department and his mother served as a substitute teacher.
A scholarship enabled him to attend Albion College, a small liberal arts school some 60 miles from his home, where he majored in economics and political science. An accounting class taught by E. Maynard Aris, an economics professor and student of Bill Paton, sold him on an accounting career, and Aris became his mentor and life-long friend. Between the semesters of his senior year, he married his high school sweetheart, Kay Moynihan and graduated with honors in June 1957. One week after graduation, with the encouragement of both his college mentor and the managing partner of the Detroit office of Arthur Andersen & Co., he enrolled in the University of Michigan's MBA program in June, where he won a Paton Scholarship and an administrative assistantship. An overloaded course schedule and a lot of hard work enabled him to complete the degree in just three semesters.
Upon graduation in June 1958, he joined Andersen's Detroit office. Here, he met Leonard Spacek who had been the firm's managing partner since 1947 and was among the first to see the need to improve the accounting standards. In addition to his work with clients, he became involved in developing the firm's position on a variety of matters, including deferred tax accounting. He was admitted to partnership in 1968 and transferred to the Chicago office in 1970 to take charge of the firm's SEC practice, a position that created two new friendships--one with Andrew Barr, who was then Chief Accountant of the SEC, and the other with Art Wyatt, the former professor and Andersen partner who had been working closely with the Accounting Principles Board. In 1974, he transferred to Indianapolis as managing partner of the office for two years. Returning to the national office in Chicago, he held a variety of positions over the next twenty years, including responsibility for the firm's world-wide accounting and auditing practice and, later, head of the firm's Professional Standards Group. He retired from Andersen in 1996 after 38 years with the firm.
During his years with Andersen, he built an exceptional record of professional service. He was a charter member of the FASB's Emerging Issues Task Force, serving from its inception in 1984 to 1991. From 1991 to 1995 he served on the FASB's Advisory Council, and from 1991 to 1994 he chaired the AICPA's Special Committee on Financial Reporting. The group concluded its activities in 1994 with the publication of the "Jenkins Committee Report" which argued that accounting should adopt a broad view of business reporting in which financial statements would be supplemented with other information designed to better inform capital allocation decisions.
In 1997, he was named chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. He served the full five-year term during a period of intense activity and controversy over financial reporting standards. Under his leadership the Board issued standards on derivatives accounting, eliminated pooling-of-interests accounting, and made progress on many other aspects of its technical agenda. In addition, the Board made progress on constituent relations, liaison with the legislative and regulatory communities, and maintenance of its independence. He also oversaw the Board's participation in the restructuring of the international accounting standards setting process and the creation of the International Accounting Standards Board.
In addition to a demanding program of profession activities, he had a long record of community service. For twenty-five years, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Child Care Society and served twice as its president. For over twenty years, he was a trustee of Albion College. At present, he serves on the Board of Directors of the University of Arizona's Medical Center and of Interfaith Community Service, a not-for-profit human welfare agency. His many honors and awards include honors doctorates from DePaul University, Lycoming College, and his alma mater, Albion College. He and his wife, Kay, lived in Tucson, Arizona where Ed, in addition to his community service activities, was an avid hiker. One of his most memorable hikes was when he went down the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River and back up to its rim. They have four children and eight grandchildren. He was the seventy-eighth member inducted into The Accounting Hall of Fame.
Edmund Lowell Jenkins passed away on December 2, 2020.