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Accounting Professor Bob May Retires After a 'Great Run' of 34 Years

May Day: Retiring Texas Accounting Professor to Give Commencement Speech
May 14, 2013

Bob May, McCombs Commencement Speaker 2013

One of Robert May's last acts before retiring after 34 years in the McCombs accounting department was to give the commencement address to the spring 2013 graduates in the Master in Public Accounting program. To mark the occasion as well as May's retirement, May was honored in a feature story on AccountingWEB that described his many accomplishments at McCombs, including serving as McCombs dean and developing the MPA program. The article also included accolades from many McCombs students and professors, such as current accounting chairman Lillian Mills

Here are some excerpts from the article:

"[The MPA] degree, which is integrated across the undergraduate and graduate programs, is now top-ranked in the country and a model for accounting education," Lillian Mills, an accounting professor and chairman of the department of accounting for the McCombs School of Business, told AccountingWEB. "As the faculty coordinator for the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization program since 2010, Bob will leave a lasting legacy on the Texas economy as more students from science and technology learn to turn their ideas into viable businesses."

Claire Williams, who will be graduating May 17 with an MPA and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, told AccountingWEB that May taught the first accounting course she took at the University of Texas and is one of the reasons she pursued a degree in accounting.


May served a second four-year term as department chair from 1988 to 1992. During that time, he was able to secure a deal with various CPA firms for MPA student internships. May says the impetus of the internship program was that students who graduated with their MPA degree after five years needed to mature both personally and professionally.Bob May, McCombs Professor

"Every year we would try and negotiate with the predecessors to the Big 4 firms and with national firms on ground rules for dealing with our students, treating them well, and competing in a professional and decent fashion," May says. "We felt we needed to season the MPA students to give them more of a chance to mature as professionals. The Big 4 representatives told us they could employ any number of interns during the winter and early spring months. I took that back to the faculty with a recommendation that this was our one and only hope of having the majority of our young students get that extra boost in their education."


As he looks back on his thirty-four-year career at the University of Texas, May has nothing but good things to say about his department of accounting colleagues and the staff at the McCombs School of Business.

"My colleagues in accounting have just been an absolutely terrific group of faculty and friends, and I can't say enough about their collective as well as their individual talents," he says. "The staff have been terrific in terms of getting behind the relentless improvement of the school over the years and being proud and dedicated of the quality of what we're delivering. I can honestly say that there's less than a handful of people in that entire thirty-four years who didn't meet my idea of high professional and personal standards. That's a blessing, and it's way beyond anything that you would expect."

But what May says he will miss the most about teaching is the interaction with his students.

"I do love the discipline, and when I was an active researcher, I loved going to seminars and mixing it up with others, trying to find what was right, what was wrong, and what was demonstrated by the evidence versus what wasn't. That's a great activity. But what I cared most about was the ability to convey and help students understand the discipline. The students I've taught and been associated with have been great," he says. 


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