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100 Years And Still Counting: McCombs' No. 1 Legacy

Dean Thomas Gilligan, McCombs School of BusinessI come as an economist to lavish praise upon accountants. There’s no telling how that might be received, as accountants are generally concerned about accuracy and comparability, while my field simply adjusts our assumptions to explain why what we predicted yesterday didn’t happen.

As an economist who does value certainty, there is nothing quite as consistently satisfying as our school’s stellar reputation in accounting education. For the past seven years U.S. News and World Report’s survey of Best Graduate Schools has placed McCombs No. 1 in the nation for accounting, rising above such prestigious programs as University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and University of Chicago (Booth). The No. 1 rank is consistent across our undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. programs, as measured by U.S. News and World Report and the Public Accounting Report.

One needn’t concoct a theory to explain this—simply consider the quality and dedication of our accounting faculty and staff, and the resulting high caliber of the students we attract. No newcomer to accounting leadership, The University of Texas Department of Accounting is completing its Centennial year, which featured shared memories, a significant Centennial Scholarship Fund presentation, and continued accomplishments by both faculty and accounting students. As carefully chronicled in the centennial book “Journal Entries,” the accounting program has shaped the vibrancy and culture of excellence at McCombs and will continue to do so for decades to come. That’s a statistical probability, but also my most fervent belief based on direct experiences with our dedicated students, staff, and faculty in accounting.

I’ve joked with Professor Stephen Limberg, faculty director for the Texas Master in Professional Accounting (MPA) program, and Professor Lillian Mills, chair of the Accounting Department, that should accounting ever drop to No. 2 we’ll all be blamed for presiding over the demise. They know, as do I that excellence is not an entitlement, but is earned and re-earned. While an independent survey may determine our published reputation, their team focuses on the foundational drivers of an unparalleled educational experience for our students, everything from curriculum innovation and quality of classroom instruction, to student advising and career services support.

In the research field, our professors continually push the boundaries of knowledge creation, and serve as leaders in their profession, while never losing sight of the importance of educating future generations of accounting professionals. This past year the department hosted more than 40 faculty lunches with small groups of students to discuss specific accounting topics in a casual setting. Faculty members like Terri Holbrook also give their time to advise students competing in accounting competitions like this year's Deloitte FanTAXtic Case Competition winners. Believe me, this dean loves to see McCombs students posing in front of a burnt orange UT Tower!

Thank you, Texas MPA program and The University of Texas Accounting Department, for maintaining such a dominating spirit of achievement, for which you continue to be recognized as pre-eminent in the nation. Your contributions to McCombs always fall in the asset column.

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