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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: John K. Simmons
Interviewer: Samuel Proctor
March 1, 1993
Simmons begins the interview by talking about his family history and childhood. He
became interested in accounting courses in college at Kansas State University. He
completed graduate work at the University of Denver and then got a Ph.D. at Ohio
State. He taught at the University of Minnesota for nine years (pages 1-4). He
discusses the status of accounting education and the demand for trained accountants
(pages 4-5). He relates how he came to the University of Florida and the recruitment
process. He reveals his impressions of the program and of Gainesville. He lists his
responsibilities as chairman of the program and talks about his commitment to
research (pages 5-11). He discusses debate about separating accounting schools from
business schools and setting up a committee to investigate the matter. He mentions Al
Warrington and fund raising (pages 11-17). He talks about Bob Lanzillotti's role in
setting up the separate accounting school, including the allocation of money and
organization of the administration as well as the big accounting firms that donated
money to the school (pages 17-25). He mentions the lobbying effort for the accounting
school and the six-year experimental program. He talks more of Lanzillotti's role and his
service as president of the Federation of Schools of Accountancy. He tells about his
relationship with Bob Lanzillotti (pages 25-30).
He then describes the curriculum in the School of Accounting and talks about the
quality of the students. He also reveals how faculty are hired, how the budget is
prepared and how salaries are determined in the School of Accounting (pages 30-35).
He explains the difference between the four-year and five-year programs and how
graduates are placed into jobs. He also analyzes how the University of Florida
accounting program compares to other schools (pages 35-38). He explains why he left
as director and became a professor. He talks about the Accounting Research Center
and again about fund raising (pages 38-42). He describes the role of Fred Fisher in the
accounting school, along with other prominent alumni. He discusses ethics in the
accounting profession and teaching ethics at the university (pages 42-45). Simmons
describes the physical layout of the school and the relationship of the faculty with the
students. He briefly mentions other deans of the school, including Alan Merten and
John Kraft (pages 46-49). Simmons reflects on his experiences in general at the
University and how he changed during his time there. He served on the CPA Exam
Review Board for a number of years and has also been involved with the American
Accounting Association. He then talks about the future of the accounting school at the
University of Florida and also about schools around the state of Florida (pages 50-56).
He ends the interview by mentioning the roles of other faculty members, including Keith
Austin, C. Arnold Matthews, Joel Cohen, Jay Skelton, and John McDonald (pages 56-
P: [This is Samuel Proctor, and] I am beginning an interview this afternoon with John
K. Simmons, the K.P.M.G. Peat, Marwick Distinguished Service Professor of
Accounting, who was involved in setting up what became the Fisher School of
Accounting at the University of Florida. This is March 1, 1993. We are doing the
interview in my office here in the Florida Museum of Natural History, and it is part
of the University of Florida Oral History Program.
John, I want to start off, if I may, with some biographical information. Give me your
full name, including what that K stands for.
S: John Kaul Simmons. The K stands for Kaul, which is my mother's maiden name.
It is a German name.
P: Where were you born?
S: Beloit, Kansas, spelled just like Beloit, Wisconsin, which is better known. It is a
small town of about 4,000 or 5,000 people in north-central Kansas.
P: And the date of your birth?
S: July 12, 1938.
P: All right. Now, tell me a little bit about your early education.
S: Well, there is something fairly unique in my background, I guess. If I were a few
years older it may not be so unique. Because I was born and raised in a rural area,
I did not actually go to kindergarten or the first grade. It was not convenient to do
so. My mother had been a school teacher, and she actually taught me. So when it
was feasible for me to start school, and I was tested, I actually started in the second
grade. For one year I went to the old one-room schoolhouse with three students and
a teacher. They opened it up just for one year for us, and then they decided that was
not feasible and closed it down. Then I went to somewhat larger schools after that.
P: You graduated from high school when?
S: In 1956.
P: Did you come from a rural family?
S: Yes. I was born and raised on a farm.
P: How did you become interested in accounting?
S: Well, ours was a family of four boys, and I am the youngest of the four. The one
who is next youngest had gone to college and ended up getting a Ph.D. in ag.
economics, as a matter of fact. So I guess it was predetermined I was going to go
college; I always knew I was going to go to college. I took college-preparatory
courses in high school. So it just became a matter of what I would take. I had a
scholarship in agricultural engineering with the agricultural background, and I started
in that and decided I did not like that. I had taken some accounting courses, which
I did like, and it was more a matter of having taken those first few courses in
accounting and deciding I liked it. I went on from there.
P: Where did you do undergraduate work?
S: Kansas State University.
P: Where is that?
S: It is in Manhattan, Kansas.
P: And you received your degree there?
S: The bachelor's degree there, yes.
P: What year?
S: In 1960.
P: And then you went on for graduate work?
S: During my senior year they gave me the opportunity to teach a lab, which was
unusual for an undergraduate student. But accounting in those days quite often had
a regular class session and then a laboratory session, and they gave me the
opportunity to teach a lab, and I enjoyed it. So I started talking to faculty about the
possibility of a master's degree and going on. I also interviewed with a number of
CPA firms, but I decided to go on and get a master's degree.
P: And you then took an M.B.A. where?
S: The University of Denver.
P: Was that a one-year program?
S: [It was a] one-year program. I also taught the entire time I was there.
P: And why did you go to the University of Denver?
S: In choosing between several universities, [I found] the faculty at Kansas State had a
high regard for that program, and I finally decided to stay in the same region for the
master's degree. They also gave me good fellowship support; it was one of the better
offers I had.
P: And then from there you went on to the Ph.D.?
S: [I went] straight on to Ohio State.
P: Why Ohio State?
S: Much the same reasons. I made my final choice for a Ph.D. program between Ohio
State and Illinois, and I basically chose Ohio State because the counsel I received
was that the program was equally good and probably a little more friendly, and the
support was about the same, maybe slightly better. It was a close call, but I basically
decided [to go to Ohio State].
P: You took the Ph.D. when?
S: I received it in 1967, actually, I think. I really finished the coursework and everything
in late 1965 and went on to the faculty at the University of Minnesota. Then I
finished the dissertation after the first year or two up there.
P: What was the extent of your teaching experience in those early years when you were
going to graduate school and afterwards?
S: Well, as I mentioned, I was able to teach the lab as an undergrad student. Then as
a master's student, I had full-time responsibility (with really not much supervision)
to do an elementary accounting course, which I taught fall, winter, and summer. We
were on the quarter system at Denver, so it would have been three quarters plus the
summer. Then it was the same thing at Ohio State. I taught with full responsibility,
along with other Ph.D. students, the first and second accounting courses.
P: So you were teaching at the University of Minnesota before you received the Ph.D.
S: I went up there as an assistant professor A.B.D., without the dissertation.
P: In 1965.
S: Yes. I think I actually received the degree officially in 1967.
P: And you stayed on at Minnesota until you came to Florida?
S: [I stayed there] for nine years. I went up through the ranks there--assistant, associate
professor, [full professor]. I was there really only one year as a full professor and
also as department chairman that year.
P: You moved very rapidly up the ranks. Was that unusual?
S: I would say that in that time period people who were successful did move a little
faster than they do today. That was, I would say, on the fast side of average, but it
would not be considered to be extremely fast.
P: What was the status of accounting on the university level in the 1950s and the 1960s,
when you were making your choice and then going through?
S: I think it depended on the particular university. It was probably strongest at Ohio
State. They were dominant in the College of Business, and they had a long history
of outstanding faculty there over the years. They had made quite a reputation for
themselves. I think they were more widely recognized on campus than, say, at
Kansas State, which was my undergraduate school. The University of Denver was
also very strong. The two programs downtown were law and business, of which
accounting was a very strong component.
P: Were accounting firms turning more and more to universities for the people that they
S: I would think almost solely by that time. That was really, I think, near the beginning
of the growth of accounting in terms of jobs opportunities, in terms of compensation,
in terms of recognition. It was really the start of a very significant growth period in
accounting, both in the profession itself and in terms of the academic world. There
is no doubt that I hit the academic world of accounting at probably the best time
ever--right at the very beginning. It stayed very good for a number of years after
P: I guess this is like the chicken-and-the-egg question, but which came first? Was it
the demand, or were you turning out more people and filling the gaps?
S: The profession grew fast, and that created a demand and made accounting faculty
very scarce. That was after I had made the decision to go into accounting. I sort of
benefitted from it. It had nothing to do with the actual decision itself. Part of the
reason I took accounting courses initially was that I had received some feedback that
accounting was a good field to go into, but it never really had anything to do with my
decision to actually major in accounting, and certainly not to go into teaching. But
that was really the start of the very fast growth curve in public accounting, which has
leveled off today.
P: Now, I know that this is one of the reasons for setting up a special school on this
campus, but what is causing the expansion of accounting? Is it because of increased
S: Primarily, I do not think so, [but] that had been a factor. I think it was simply the
growth in the capitalization of companies, in the number of companies, the amount
of outside capital they were seeking, the requirement of audit opinions, growth, and
even credit sources like banks and shareholders requiring audited financial
statements. I think it just basically grew as that kind of activity grew. That growth,
as I said, has leveled off some, because we do not have that same rapid expansion
in industry that we did back in those years.
P: John, what brought you to Florida?
S: Well, as I mentioned, I had gone through all the ranks at Minnesota. I had been
promoted to full professor, and I was department chairman. Up there we had a
rotating chairmanship, and it was kind of my turn to be chairman. I liked being
chairman, and I also liked being at the University of Minnesota. The thing that
probably really started me to look was I developed a serious sinus problem with the
severe changes in weather up there. It seemed like every year it got worse, and by
the time I was there nine years it seemed like somehow I had become more
sensitized to it. One of the things a doctor told me one time when I had a
particularly tough winter and was running a low-grade virus fever for several weeks
was, "I think I had better write you a prescription to go down in the sunshine and get
rid of this." I got to thinking that maybe it was just better to move. [laughter] So
I started looking.
P: Did you recruit the University, or did they recruit you?
S: They recruited me. Again, I was not seriously looking, but another event happened
at the same time. A friend of mine had gone to the University of Tennessee a
couple years before--this was actually before I became full professor--and had asked
me to recruit down there. At the same time he had also interviewed at the
University of Florida, but he decided not to move at that time.
Then when I started looking for chairmanships I do not remember exactly what
happened, but somebody from the University of Florida did contact me and asked
me if I was interested in being a candidate for the chairmanship. I decided that I
would take a look at it, so I was one of the three candidates that came down.
P: So you were not soliciting. They came to you.
S: They came to me, but I certainly was receptive and interested. I guess actually when
I decided to look around I do not think I ever really had made the decision to tell
people I was looking around, but when somebody approached me, then I was ready
to look. It is interesting that I was on the dean's search committee at Minnesota at
the same time, and one of the candidates was Bob Lanzillotti [American Economic
Institutions Free Enterprise Eminent Scholar and dean emeritus, College of Business
Administration]. It was kind of an issue whether he was going to go there and be
dean or whether I was going to come down here and be department chairman.
P: Was it Bob who was working with you in bringing you down?
S: No, I actually I do not think Bob was on the search committee. Dee Ray [Delmas
Dennis Ray] chaired the committee. I do not know whether you know him or not.
Dee is retired now. It really was a faculty committee that screened the candidates
and brought a few people in.
P: Were you getting other offers at the time?
S: I was getting other inquiries, but at that particular time I did not make any visits
other than the University of Florida.
P: Did you know about the University?
S: Because I had been down here two or three years earlier, I knew some things about
it. I had interviewed either as an associate or full professor a few years before that,
so I knew something about it.
P: How did the University's program stack up at the time compared with other
institutions in the U.S.?
S: I think that the University had a good reputation, but it did not have the same
reputation that a Minnesota or Ohio State had at that time--not in business and
accounting. I think there actually was a survey done just before I came down that
I saw after I had already accepted--somebody sent a copy to me--and the accounting
program was ranked about twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth in the country, based
upon that survey. Of course, rankings are not perfect by any means. Now we
consistently rank in the top ten. So there was a long and solid history here. It also
was a situation, and that is one reason I came here, in which accounting had a
number of vacancies. A number of faculty were about ready to retire, and some
alumni had come in and told Dean Lanzillotti it was time to move and do something
with accounting. So it was all those combinations of variables that really made it
P: So you saw some good potential, then.
S: Very much so. That, in the final analysis, was what caused me to come down here.
P: Now, when you came down, of course, we were in the middle of a recession.
S: It hit just after that.
P: And the dollars were very few.
S: Yes. I made the decision the fall of 1973. I was also chairman at Minnesota that
same year, and I really ran two departments almost, because I came down in January
and made several trips and hired some people to start that following fall, even
though I was not in place. I also did the planning for the teaching program that
following fall. I did all that before I actually came here in July of 1974. Then it was
during that first year I was here that we got into the situation of tight budgets and
zero raises for faculty. But that lasted just a fairly short time. It was not like this
P: When you came down to interview, you met with the faculty in the college.
S: That is right, particularly the accounting faculty. I made a presentation to the
accounting faculty and talked to all of them individually. I met some of the
department chairpersons in the college. I do not recall meeting any general college
faculty. It was the general accounting faculty. I met, of course, and spent quite a bit
of time with Bob Lanzillotti, the dean, and I talked with Bob Bryan briefly, who was
then assistant vice president.
P: For academic affairs.
S: He was assistant then. He actually was not vice president yet at that point.
P: Did you talk to [UF president Robert Q.] Marston?
S: I did not talk to Marston on that trip. As a matter of fact, I do not think he was
here yet. He was not here at the time I interviewed. I am not sure who was, in fact,
whether it was an acting president. I do not recall. I did not pay a lot of attention
to the timing, but I know Marston came here about the same time I did.
P: Now, you are married by this time, of course.
S: Oh, yes.
P: To whom?
S: My wife's name is Gail. We met at Kansas State. We had been married all the way
through my graduate studies.
P: And you had children?
S: Two daughters.
P: What are their names?
S: Kauleen is the older, and Laura is the younger.
P: When you yourself decided to make the move, obviously you discussed it with your
family. Were they in support of this?
S: Yes. My wife, of course, came down with me, even on the first trip, and spent the
same time that I did here. She was very supportive. Our two daughters, who were
then probably in about the third and sixth grade, did not come down, but we talked
to them about the fact that we could have a swimming pool down here and some
things like that.
P: You had to blackmail them. [laughter]
S: They obviously were a little reluctant to leave friends, but it was not a problem.
They were ready to go.
P: How did you like Gainesville?
S: We liked it a lot. We had a transition to make because we had lived in Minneapolis-
St. Paul, a big city, and Columbus, Ohio, which is a reasonably big city, and my wife
found particularly the shopping transition to be a bit difficult. But there were many
things that made up for that. We liked Gainesville a lot.
P: Particularly your sinuses.
S: Yes, that is right. We met a lot of friendly people. We were a little worried about
the school system. We came down from Minneapolis, which has a great school
system for kids. We debated about whether to put our kids in public or private
schools. We left them in public schools, and we had very good luck with it.
P: Was the dollar offer good?
S: The dollar offer was good. It was not the deciding factor.
P: Was it better than what you were getting at Minnesota?
S: Well, of course, it was on a twelve-month basis, whereas up there I was on a nine-
month basis. If you translated it to twelve months, it would have been an increase.
I am not sure I would say it was a substantial increase, but it was definitely an
P: So all things considered, you felt you had made a good career move.
S: Yes. I never had any serious doubts. I did not even go through a second-thought
process after I made the decision. I think one of the reasons for that, though, was
I got involved very quickly and came down and spent some time in January. I
actually went out to the University of Texas and interviewed some people for Florida.
There was one person that came down and interviewed when I was not here, and I
had him fly through Minneapolis so I could talk to him. So from the very beginning--
as soon as I made the decision--I got involved in laying the groundwork to hire some
people. I also planned the teaching program for the following year. So I did not
really even have a chance to even stop and reflect, I guess, in terms of whether I had
made the right decision or not.
P: Now, nearly twenty years later, do you think you made the wrong decision?
S: No. It was a very good move. I have had a number of inquiries about going
somewhere else to be a dean, even up until last year or so. I expect some of those
to start diminishing as I get older and am farther from administration. But I had a
lot of inquiries, and I have flirted with them a little bit, but I have never actually
gone to visit because I still think this is a good place to be. Plus, I have a very strong
vested interest in the School of Accounting.
P: And you feel that the status of the school and of the college has grown now, so that
if you or someone else wanted to make the move, it is a good launching pad?
S: Oh, yes, and there is no doubt that it has launched some people. And there is no
doubt it had a favorable impact on some aspects of my career as well. As the school
became successful, certainly that brought some recognition to me as well.
P: Now, as a chairman during a transitional period here at the University, obviously you
had to recruit and hire people. What other responsibilities did you have when you
S: There were several things. Recruiting was clearly the biggest one. As I said, we had
several open lines which never really got frozen, as I recall, even that one bad year.
(If they were frozen it was for a very short time.) Bob Lanzillotti promised several
new lines, so we hired something like I forget the exact number, but something
like maybe sixteen people in the first five years. So recruiting was a very big part of
it. Once we had several successful acceptance, recruiting went very well.
But there were some other things, like the faculty were mainly teaching five days a
week when I came here, and one of the things I did was to get special approval
primarily from academic affairs, I guess, to go on a split teaching schedule where
they would teach part of two sessions and do it three days a week instead of those
old one-hour, five-days-a-week so they could free up some time to do some research
and some other things. We had done that at Minnesota; it was not necessarily an
original idea with me. It is just that I had seen other places where it worked so
much better to do that sort of thing.
Almost immediately, then, this issue of the School of Accounting came up. We did
not raise it here initially; it was raised elsewhere within a year or two before that,
and it had become a topic of some national discussion. So we went to work on that
right away, and that became very time-consuming.
P: What was--and is--your commitment to research?
P: I had done the necessary research to go up through the ranks at the University of
Minnesota. One of the articles I wrote at that time, in fact, won the Outstanding
Contribution to Literature in Accounting for that year. Since then I have not been
as involved in the [research aspect of academia]. I got off into administration, and
then when I gave up administration, I got involved in what probably can be best
described as national organizations and policy issues. So the writings I have done
since I came here have been more dealing with issues and policy rather than what
you would term basic research.
P: Let me broaden the question a little bit. What is your commitment to research as
far as the college is concerned or the faculty is concerned right from the very
beginning, when you arrived? Did you have research scholars on the accounting
S: There was not a great deal of research being done. I wanted to follow a balanced
approach. All three areas [teaching, research, and service], I think, needed work, but
research needed to be improved. Another thing that needed to be improved was that
the alumni were somewhat unhappy with the relationship between the faculty and the
public accounting individuals. That is one reason they had approached Bob
Lanzillotti and said it was time to start doing something different--that it was time
So my model for communicating the fact of what I wanted faculty to do and what I
was going to reward them on was a three-dimensional model, which was that I
wanted to emphasize across all three areas of faculty teaching, research, and service.
So service was a bigger obligation than it would be, say, in most units on campus at
that time, particularly professional interaction service.
But the commitment to research was strong, and it was certainly one of the areas we
needed to build. We developed an accounting research center. I initiated that and
brought in a person who was well-known into a chaired position. He stayed only a
year and left, and then we brought in a second person in that same position, and he
really then developed the Accounting Research Center, and he is still here as a
graduate research professor. That is Rashad Abdel-khalik.
P: What about the enrollment for the college in accounting? It was rising in the 1960s
S: Very much so. One of the first things we did, at my initiation, was to raise the
admission standards in accounting. In the first or second year I was here, we had a
30 percent increase [in enrollment]. I do not remember now whether it was just the
first year or maybe the first two years combined, but we had a 30 percent increase
in enrollment. The University does not provide resources to keep up with that kind
of pace, so one of the first things we did, and I think was one of the factors in our
success, was that we started raising admission standards.
P: From what to what?
S: It was a scale based upon how many preprofessional courses they had completed out
of a set of maybe six courses that we stipulated as preprofessional courses to the
College of Business at that time. In accounting today we still have about the same
set as the college, but it is slightly different. I do not remember whether it was 2.0
or 2.5 [grade point average that they needed for admittance], but we essentially went
up to 2.8 if they had completed all of them and about a 3.0 if they had completed
only one or two. So we basically went from a C to a C+ average up to a very strong
C+ to a B average to get into accounting.
P: Is that what it is today?
S: Today it is a very clear-cut B average. And also, then, because we emphasize the
five-year program, we have also added for admission to the five-year program the
P: When you arrived on the scene, what year again was that? 1974?
S: 1974 was when I actually came.
P: You say that there was already discussion about setting up an independent school of
S: [That was] not here. There had been a meeting at the University of Texas where
several people had talked about that issue. There had been a recommendation that
came out of the American Institute of CPAs that that was one of the things they
would like to see as part of several developments in accounting education. So there
had been some suggestion at the national level that this should be thought about.
There were maybe two schools who, at least in the first year I was here, had moved
in that direction. The University of Missouri had moved in that direction, and
Brigham Young University, I think, by that time had moved in that direction.
P: Those were the two pioneers?
S: Yes. We were one of four. I think the other one that was in that four might have
been the University of Denver, if I remember right.
P: What were the catalysts that began that thinking here in Florida, on or off the
S: Well, I knew that we needed to look at our curriculum for the professional program,
so I appointed a faculty committee, first of all, to look at the dimensions of a good
professional program, because there had in fact been a publication issued by the
AICPA on professional programs in accountancy.
P: What is the AICPA?
S: AICPA is the American Institute of CPAs. They had issued a booklet. There had
been a study group on standards, A Study Board on Standards for Professional
Accounting. I do not remember the exact title, but it was something like that. So it
was timely to set up a committee.
P: Who was on your committee?
S: I probably could not recall the four or five faculty without going back and looking
at the names, but it was a combination of faculty who had been here for a while, yet
[it was] dominated by people who had just come in, because we had such a
turnaround so quickly of new people.
P: Did you have representation from off the campus?
S: Not at that time. Now, that committee came back to a faculty meeting with some
recommendations, and one of the things they raised was that we probably should
start thinking seriously about a school of accounting. [They said that] in addition to
just changing the curriculum and certain aspects of the program, we ought to think
about a school of accounting.
P: So they really went a little bit beyond your original charge.
S: I do not remember the exact charge. I may have included that at least as something
to consider in the charge. Certainly I had brought it to their attention. What I did
then was I drew up a little chart about different things a school of accounting would
entail, and I gave that to a committee that was ten people--these same five faculty
plus five practitioners. All of these practitioners except for one were alumni.
P: Was Al Warrington in at the beginning?
S: Al Warrington was one of those people. Also at that same time, during that first
year, we had organized what we still call a steering committee, and Al Warrington
was very involved in that. So I worked closely with him and with others in the
general fund-raising effort. That had really ratcheted up and had increased quite a
bit. So that first year they were very active with the steering committee; it really had
just been organized at that point. So we had this faculty committee working, which
we then added five people from the steering committee to, and we had the steering
committee itself, which was very active, so the working partnership with the outside
profession really got going and became strong during that first year or so. It was
really kind of surprising how fast it happened.
P: Did you realize when you came that you were going to be involved in fund-raising?
S: Yes. I did not know that we were going to be involved in extensive fund-raising to
create a school, but I knew that fund-raising was one of the things that needed
attention. One of the very first things we did was to go around the state meeting
with alumni. Al Warrington really arranged these meetings, and Bob Lanzillotti and
I and Willard Stone, who was the previous chairman, went along. Actually, that may
have happened before I permanently arrived on the scene; if not, it was in the first
month or so I was here. The steering committee was organized, and we started fund-
raising efforts, but [that was] just for general enrichment of the program; [it was] not
for a school at that point.
P: Who else besides Al Warrington off the campus was involved?
S: Doug Thompson [secretary, State Board of Accountancy] was pretty actively involved.
P: [He is] from where?
S: He is still in Gainesville. He was with the state board of accountancy at the time
and is a Florida graduate. He is very active here in Gainesville. He is still around.
P: Who else?
S: There were a lot of individuals. A fellow who just recently passed away, Ed Triplet,
was involved, not quite at the same level as Al or Doug, but very much involved
[nevertheless]. A fellow by the name of Bob Ellison was involved during the key
period of time.
P: From where?
S: From Coopers & Lybrand in Miami. He is still there. I think he is about due to
retire this year. [There was] a fellow by the name of Fred Edenfield, who headed
up a fairly large local firm down in Fort Myers, was very much involved. Keith
Austin [interim instructor of accounting and local CPA] here in Gainesville was
involved in some of the initial stages of setting up the school. As a matter of fact,
the five people that served on that committee with the five faculty that finally came
back with the recommendation of a school included Al Warrington and Keith Austin
and Jay Skelton. Jay was the only one who was a non-alumnus. He was with Peat,
Marwick in Jacksonville. So we had Fred Edenfield, Keith Austin, Al Warrington,
Jay Skelton, and I believe the fifth person on that actual committee was Bob Ellison.
As I said, Doug Thompson was very much involved at that time, too. So that is
really the initial set of people.
P: What do you mean by "enrichment funding"? I noticed that appears in the
correspondence and in the discussion at the time.
S: [Those are] funds that would allow us to do the things that we needed to do to make
our program stronger: faculty support for research in the summer, faculty travel to
be able to participate in professional meetings, some student scholarships. There
were a category of things that came under that heading of enrichment.
P: I gather this was very successful from the first year that you were involved, that it
went from $10,000 to $40,000 or more.
S: It was something like $40,000 or $50,000. Yes, and one of the key individuals there
was Al Warrington. There was another key individual who is still around who was
very much involved in that first fund-raising effort (before the school, just for the
general fund), and his name is Terry Lyle. He is down in Tampa. Terry was with
Peat, Marwick & Mitchell at the time. He then left Peat, Marwick and went with
Jack Eckerd for a while and is now retired. But Terry and Al sort of had a duel
going as to who could raise the most funds--Arthur Andersen or Peat, Marwick.
Both of those are CPA firms. Terry actually beat Al, much to Al's chagrin. I
remember we had an alumni function after a football game in the fall of the very
first year, 1974, when we announced these fund-raising efforts. So yes, it did happen
P: And I noticed also from the correspondence that you had major fund-raising efforts
in Tampa and in Miami and in Jacksonville.
S: Those are the three meetings I mentioned that we had either right after I got here,
or maybe I came down especially for them before I physically could move. I do not
remember the exact timing. I think it may have been within the first month after I
P: And you were seeking donations from individuals and from firms that could be used
by your department for whatever you felt was necessary to enhance the operation.
S: That is right.
P: So these were unrestricted funds.
S: Yes. As I said, that went from a total of something like $8,000 or $9,000--under
$10,000, I think--to about $50,000 in that first year.
P: These were donations given to you through the foundation?
S: Yes, they came in, and they all ended up in the foundation. Some of them came up
directly to me; some of them had "University of Florida" written on them. We always
had that problem then of trying to get them into the foundation account. We
actually deposited a few of those individual checks in Miscellaneous Grants because
they were made out to the University of Florida. The objective was to end up in the
foundation account, and by far the majority of them did.
P: Al Warrington, then, was your strongest off-campus [worker]?
S: He was the first chairman of the steering committee in that very first year.
P: Who is Al Warrington?
S: Al is a graduate of the program who was with Arthur Andersen for most of his
career. When I knew him, he had become the managing partner of the Miami office
of Arthur Andersen. I think his blood, if he could bleed, would be orange and blue.
P: And avid Gator!
S: Yes. Of course, as you probably know he has been president of the Alumni
Association. That happened afterwards; he had not been yet at that time. There are
a lot of people from the outside who were factors in creating the school, but no one
is quite at the same level as Al Warrington. Al was clearly the most helpful person.
P: He continues his dedication?
S: Yes, he does. He is still on the steering committee and still comes back and attends
most of the meetings, even though he is now located in Houston.
P: I was going to say he has moved from Florida to Texas now, but that does not stop
S: Yes. His heart is still back here.
P: That is right. You see him on the plane a couple of days before every football game.
S: He usually has on his orange jacket, so you cannot miss him.
P: I know Al very well. [laughter] When was he here in school?
S: You know, I am going to have to guess. He has certainly told me several times. I
think it probably was around 1961 or 1962.
P: Well, I am going to interview him also in this project, so I will get all the specific bio
information. I am not sure I would want to count on it, but I think he was once in
my class. But so was everybody else in the world. [laughter] Now, he was followed
by Fred Edenfield in 1975.
S: Right. And I did that purposely to try to go from a national firm representative to
a smaller local firm representative to get those people more involved.
P: Tell me who Fred Edenfield is.
S: Fred is also one of our graduates. When I met Fred, he was the managing partner
of Taylor, Edenfield, Gilliam, & Wilkshire down in Fort Myers. That firm has since
merged into Coopers & Lybrand, which is one of the Big Six CPA firms. It is a very
successful firm, and I am sure that Al is the one that pointed Fred out to me. Fred
was very active in that first year, and then I asked Fred to chair the steering
committee the next year to swing it to a local person. Of course, Al continued to
work hard, also, but Fred was the chairman the second year.
P: And then he was succeeded by Robert Ellison.
S: Bob Ellison was with Coopers & Lybrand, in the Miami office, and Bob was one of
the people who was probably not quite as involved in the fund-raising efforts during
that first year or two, but was very closely associated with the school. He had been
one of the people who had talked to Bob Lanzillotti about the need for change
before I even came. So we asked Bob to be chairman the third year, and he actually
then was chairman of the steering committee and acted as master of ceremonies at
the event down in Tampa with the Board of Regents where we had the celebration
to announce the creation of the school.
P: This was a critical period for setting up a school, was it not? Were you getting
strong support then from these three men and their cohorts?
S: Yes, there is no doubt that we could not have done it without the strong support of
P: So everybody then felt that there was the need for a school of accounting.
S: Well, not everybody, but those practitioners who worked with us closely and our
faculty thought so. We had to convince, of course, other people that that was the
P: You had to convince other business people in the business faculty?
S: Yes, although that went fairly well. We had to convince, of course, first the dean and
then the College of Business faculty. I visited with each department individually and
explained what we wanted to do. Then, of course, [We went to] the central
administration, right up to the Faculty Senate and the Board of Regents. There were
several other accounting programs that tried to do the same thing at about the same
time, and they were not able to get it through their universities, so we were fortunate
in that sense that we could make the case and that it was accepted.
P: What role did Bob Lanzillotti play in all of this?
S: We had to present it to Bob. We had a meeting where this committee of
faculty/alumni and I met with Bob to tell him what it was about--to make our case.
This was late in the day, probably in conjunction with [a] football weekend, as I
recall, maybe on a Friday. Bob said, "Let me think about it overnight," and we
scheduled a meeting for the following morning. Bob came back and basically said
(I do not remember his exact words): "It is an interesting idea. If you can raise $1
million to launch it successfully, then I will support it."
P: But this did not come as any surprise to him. He must have known what was going
S: I think it surprised him. Certainly, I suppose, he had heard some general discussion,
maybe around the country, or maybe not, because it still was fairly soon. But we had
not really talked about it with him specifically before that time.
P: So you and your steering committee, then, came up with a plan of operation, and you
present this to the dean of the college.
S: That is correct, and then Bob very quickly, after thinking about it overnight, agreed
to get on the bandwagon. But the key thing was that when this committee met, I had
outlined to them the various stages the school could be. It could be a change in
name only, just change the name of the department to a school; it could be a
completely freestanding school of accounting--we were just thinking about concepts
here--or it could be a school that had certain autonomies, and of course the
autonomies could be specified. Several of them could be budget, curriculum,
promotion and tenure-- those three primarily. I laid this out in the document. This
committee, not I, came back with the decision that we should try to pursue a
freestanding school of accounting, and that then was what we were trying to sell.
P: Was that pretty revolutionary?
S: It was pretty revolutionary, but two of the CPA firms at the national level, not like
a Miami office or a Jacksonville office, but their national home offices, had indicated
that they thought this was a good idea. The national foundation of one firm, Ernst
& Ernst at the time, now called Ernst & Whinney, had said they would allocate X
amount of dollars for a school of accounting and X-plus--I forget the exact amount,
but it was significantly more--for a school of accounting that was willing to
experiment for a freestanding school. Again, that was not one of the things that
made our decision for us, but that was out there for people to think about, and it
certainly was a factor.
P: Why did you feel that a freestanding school was advantageous over having an
expanded department within the college? It would have bureaucracy and red tape
and all of those kinds of administrative headaches.
S: First of all, I laid out the choices, and I did not actually make the choice. The
faculty and alumni did, thought I certainly supported it.
P: I understand. Was your heart behind it? That is really what I am asking.
S: Yes, it was.
P: If you had to make the choices, you would have selected the independent school?
S: I would have, although I would have supported any of the choices that the faculty
P: I understand that, but in your inner heart, this is what you hoped would happen?
S: Yes. There were a number of programs around the country at that time that were
starting to hope that would happen for obvious reasons. I mean, why have a separate
school or college of anything, [like] law or journalism or any professional field? It
is that you can control your own destiny, you can establish your own curriculum
without having people worry too much about vested interests, and you can just
basically set your own standards and responsibilities within the general university
guidelines rather than some other peer discipline guidelines. It is really the same
argument that you would raise for any college or school.
P: When Lanzillotti agreed to this after this overnight thinking about it, did he then
become a coach, or was he just an interested spectator?
S: I do not think "coach" would be the right word, but he was very much an active
participant. Bob and I went on fund-raising trips together to New York to try to
raise big amounts of money for the School of Accounting; we made at least one trip
to New York together. We made some other trips together. He was an active
participant, not so much in the definition of exactly what we were going to do, but
he certainly got very involved in the fund-raising effort, and he was very much an
P: Was there any move within the college itself to say: "We do not need this. We
should not be allocating scarce dollars to this"?
S: Yes. Again, Bob was a strong-enough dean that once he had made up his mind to
commit to it, he was able, I think, to head some of that off. I do understand--I could
not confirm this; Bob might be able to if he remembers--that the other department
chairman had contacted him informally and said they did not think this was a very
good idea. But Bob basically did not let that go anywhere.
It was Bob's suggestion, the dean's suggestion, that I go around and talk to individual
faculty, so I met with each of the other units in the college and explained to them
what it was that we wanted to do. I tried to assure them that there would be no
harm to them--that it would not be detrimental in any way to them. I also held out
the fact that because we were going to be using some outside resources, we would
pull out of certain things that were in tight supply within the college, such as the
summer research money. We said we would pull out of that and furnish our own.
We were going to set up our own separate facilities for copying costs. There were
a number of things like that that I tried to use somewhat to convince the others that
they were going to benefit from this and not actually be hurt by it. But the tricky
issue, of course, was the freestanding [concept]. As you can see from some of the
correspondence, that ran into some problems as we proceeded with it.
P: Why the $1 million?
S: That basically was a price tag that Bob set. I cannot tell you all the reasons why he
felt that was the right figure. I knew we needed to raise sums of money. I certainly
had set no amount in my mind, nor do I think the others had either. So it was an
amount that Bob came up with.
P: Is it because he thinks big, or did he particularly set a high mark thinking you might
not make it?
S: I could not answer that. It might be a little bit of both; it could be either, because
Bob certainly does think big. He did a lot for the college. It may also have been
that he really did not want to do this. Bob did tell me one time afterwards that I had
put him in a situation that put a lot of pressure on him. Now, I had not thought
much about that because I have never seen Bob be concerned about having pressure
put on him. If you know Bob very well, you might .. I see you are nodding your
head. You might agree with that, too. [laughter] So I did not worry much about
putting Bob in a situation where [he was pressured], because he can hold his own
anywhere. But he did tell me once afterwards that I put him in an awful heavy-
pressure situation when I asked him to meet with this group of faculty and alumni
and [hear] that presentation and asked him to commit to it. So I am sure he had
some mixed thoughts about it.
Another factor on the $1 million, though, was that we were trying to get priority to
either build a new building or remodel Bryan [Hall] at the time, and I think he in
part wanted to use the $1 million as leverage. Accounting really was responsible for
the new building being built when it was. The $1 million was used as leverage to
move it up in the priority [list]. It did not build the building. It all went to
programs; that was understood from the beginning. But that $1 million commitment
was used as leverage to increase the priority, which caused what is now BUS to be
built when it was, rather than some time in the future. That is a matter of fact.
P: [As we are discussing] Bob Lanzillotti's role in all of this, you are saying ..
S: We could not have done it without Bob Lanzillotti. As to what all his motives were
in terms of accepting it, I do not know. He received a lot of flak from other deans,
because you can imagine most deans did not want to let accounting out, certainly in
terms of freestanding, let alone have more autonomy than other units. So Bob took
a lot of flak from other deans.
P: Now, you are saying other deans or other chairs within the college?
S: Really more around the country, other deans of business.
P: I see.
S: The bottom line is we could never have done it without his support.
P: But I gathered from what you had said earlier that there was a trend in this direction
encouraged by the accounting firms to have freestanding schools of accounting, so
what Florida was doing seemed to be part of this national move.
S: That did not mean that universities accepted it and that other deans of business
accepted it. As a matter of fact, they organized against it to try to halt it. Basically,
the organization of deans of business did not want to see this happen.
P: They felt that it was a dilution of their power?
S: Yes, I think certainly that was probably the highest-ranking reason. There were a lot
of reasons they gave: that faculty interaction was necessary, the mutual support of
the programs, and so forth. There were a lot of reasons given. But the fact was that
they were opposed. Another development going on that was separate but very
strongly overlapping was the development of the 150-hour program. The two topics
were very closely related, the professional school of accounting and a 150-hour
graduate-degree-oriented program. The deans collectively across the country very
strongly opposed that. So in that sense, if Bob had not been willing to go out on a
limb, we could not have done it.
At the same time, of course, as we started to evolve the school, the questions of what
it really meant here on campus to be freestanding and to live up to the commitments
that were made became an issue from time to time. We were breaking new ground,
and I understand that gave Bob and the University some problems. But as we got
into it, some of those same issues that other deans were concerned about became
issues here as well.
P: I noticed that you share the dean--that the dean of the college is also the dean of the
school. Was that a compromise? We are jumping ahead a little here, but it fits in
with what we are talking about now.
S: We wanted, number one, to have Bob's support, and he did get on board and seemed
fairly excited about it. He was a very strong dean, and we wanted him to be dean
of the School of Accounting. There never was a thought otherwise, at least while
Bob was dean. Ultimately we thought there might be a separate dean, but we
wanted Bob to be the dean. So we tried to work out a relationship that would allow
that. It was our idea then that he would simply be the dean of both the School of
Accounting and of the College [of Business Administration]. We really carried that
idea all the way through the proposal and through the administration and all the way
to the [Faculty] Senate meeting, where somebody raised the question: "You cannot
do this. The University constitution does not allow a school to be headed by a dean,
so something has to be worked out here." So basically what we did was try to work
out a compromise but still maintain the operational activities of the school in a
freestanding mode. That is what later gave us some problems, because the
compromise kept us in the College of Business but said we were going to operate
freestanding as though we were totally free. Of course, then definitional issues
started coming up in the years ahead.
P: Now, once again, as you look back on it nearly two decades later, was it wise to have
the dean of the college also the dean of the school?
S: I do not think it would have been feasible to do anything else.
P: It was not feasible when you started. I just wondered with the passage of time
whether that was a strength or a weakness.
S: I think that there still is some feeling on the part of many--it still comes up;
somebody among our faculty will make a comment once in awhile--that it would still
make more sense for us to have a freestanding school of accounting. I think from
a political sense that is just not going to happen. One of the things that has
happened over time, since we were thinking about that, is that other programs have
not been successful in bringing that about. Also, the curriculum in accounting has
probably become a little bit more integrated than it was then. Now that many of the
wrinkles with other units in the college have now been worked out and now that we
have kind of gotten by this sticky period when they were sort of challenging us on
things and creating some problems, now we have a pretty good relationship in the
college, and I think on balance that the solution has worked out to be pretty good.
Is it best? Would we have been better off if we had gone the other way--if the
University had lived up to its original commitment for us to be freestanding? That
is hard to judge. But I think we are reasonably content most of the time with where
we are today.
P: Were you successful in achieving that $1 million goal?
P: Who did you get the money from?
S: We got it from a variety of sources, mostly from CPA firms. Arthur Andersen was
a large contributor.
P: That is Al Warrington.
S: Al Warrington was mainly responsible for that, but, you see, this money had to come
not just from alumni but from foundations as well, so we had to secure a
commitment from the Arthur Andersen foundation.
P: How much did you get from them?
S: I think it was $150,000, as I recall, over a six-year time period. It was not all up
front; it was a commitment over a six-year time period. I think the commitment from
Coopers & Lybrand was $140,000, again, over a six-year time period; from what was
then Ernst & Ernst, now Ernst & Whinney, it was $125,000. Interestingly enough,
as I mentioned before, they were the ones that supported a freestanding school, and
their letter said, "We will commit $62,500 over six years, and if you really then do
become freestanding, as the University says you are going to, we will give you the
other $62,500 at the end of the period." So they were the strongest on the
But we had raised all this money on the notion that we were going to operate
freestanding. Deloitte, Haskins & Sells also [contributed] $45,000.
P: Now, where are they?
S: Again, that was one of the Big Six firms. They have now merged and are now a part
of Deloitte & Touche. But at the time it was [Deloitte,] Haskins & Sells. Then
Peat, Marwick actually came in about a month or two after the deadline with a
$50,000 commitment, so we included it, but what we actually had to do was get some
temporary funds from individuals; we got some individuals to sign pledges amounting
to about $50,000 to make the $1 million with the notion that those pledges could be
eliminated if we got some more funding, and Peat, Marwick came in very soon after
Also, the State Board of Accountancy had originally pledged $200,000 out of their
trust funds. They were able to make, I think, about a $40,000 payment out of that.
Then the state shut them down and said, "We cannot let you do this," so we never
got all that $200,000. Then the Ring Foundation, which is a foundation of the
Florida Institute of CPAs, made a commitment of about $100,000.
P: This is not Alfred Ring, then?
S: No, it had nothing to do with him. I am trying to think who it was. They do not call
it the Ring Foundation anymore. It is now just the AICPA Foundation. But it was
called the Ring Foundation at the time, and I do not remember where the name
Ring came from. There was a CPA firm a lot of years ago called Mahoney, Ring &
something, and I suspect that is who it was. Then we got some individual
contributions [that totaled] $125,000. [The] north central local CPA chapter gave us
$5,000. We had individuals, including myself, that took out life insurance policies
(the University still has my life insurance policy) which had a face value of about
$90,000 that people are paying premiums on. Overall, the total actually added up
to about $1.2 million.
P: You did not go to banks and other financial agencies like that?
S: We tried a few separate foundations, and we found that foundations like the Arthur
Vining Davis Foundation basically want to give to the liberal arts programs on
campus, so the few foundations, and there are only maybe one or two that we
approached, we just did not have any success with.
P: The College of Business has been successful over the years in approaching
P: Were you able to do that with the School of Accounting, before you got to Fred
S: No. Al Warrington of Arthur Andersen was able to obtain a fairly large contribution
from one of his tax clients of some land in Miami that we later sold at a significant
profit. Al Warrington and Bob Lanzillotti and I talked to an individual who had
started in accounting and had become wealthy outside of accounting, and we tried
to get him to commit a large sum of money, and we were not successful. So we tried
a few individuals, but we were not successful. The success with Fred Fisher came
later, after the school was already in place.
P: Now, you achieved the goal of the $1 million which Bob Lanzillotti had set down for
you. How about at this point, then, tracing the development of the program through
the various agencies on campus until it becomes a reality, before it gets to the Board
of Regents, perhaps.
S: The proposal was going forward at the same time that the million dollars was being
raised, so that was not sequential. Those activities were going on at the same time.
Of course, it went through all the stages at the University. The curriculum
committee first had to review it. First, of course, we sent it over to Gene Hemp and
Bob Bryan and got their approval at least to process it.
P: Were they supportive right from the beginning?
S: Yes. There was never any serious opposition there. I do not know what questions
they had in their own minds. I know that Bob Bryan, from some things that he said
then and some things he said later, was concerned about what implications this might
have elsewhere on campus for others. But he was supportive.
P: But Gene Hemp is really the financial wizard. Was he supportive?
S: Yes. But Bob was the policy maker; Bob Bryan was, of course, the policy maker.
But both Bob and Gene were supportive. It went through the curriculum committee
and on to the senate, and Bob Lanzillotti and I went to the senate meeting and
answered questions. That, of course, is when this constitutional question came up.
It was approved at the senate meeting subject to resolution of this constitutional
question about a separate dean. That later led to what essentially was a footnote to
the proposal that we would operate as we proposed--as an independent unit--but that
we would be within the College of Business and that Bob Lanzillotti would be the
dean. Instead of being the common dean, he was the dean, I guess.
P: And at this point, then, you are getting support from within the college.
P: Nobody is standing up at the senate and saying, "We oppose this," or anything like
S: No. The college did pass it. As a matter of fact, the college passed it unanimously.
After the school got in place, we started getting the normal kinds of things that come
up--people saying, "Why are they able to do this? We are not able to do it. Why can
they approve their own curriculum?" As an example, we changed the degree
designation from a master of arts degree to a master of accountancy degree. That
was part of the proposal, and when I cleared it I told Bob Lanzillotti and the
associate dean of the college at the time that I was ready to submit that. I submitted
it, and a month or two later when it came back the college faculty was concerned.
[They said,] "Why was this not processed through us?" Then, of course, with the
school mechanism, the whole idea was that we would not have to process that
through them. So we had a lot of things like that happen where people on the
faculty who either did not understand what we told them we were going to do, chose
not to understand it, or reacted differently than they thought they might raised a
number of questions--and the dean did as well--as we tried to forge along and try to
live up to our agreements.
Fortunately, that has mostly been resolved. It could change again, I suppose, with
the personality of a new dean or some other people in there, but at least right now
it is working about the way it is supposed to be.
P: How much lobbying was needed to get the regents' approval? The chancellor, I
guess, was E. T. York.
S: Yes. As a matter of fact, I saw E. T. in Washington, DC, last week and reminded
him--I had not seen him for a long time--that Doug Thompson and I went up to
Tallahassee and met with him on this before it was ever approved.
P: You had to do a strong sell?
S: No, not really. Of course, as you would expect, E. T. did not commit much one way
or the other. He listened, and he certainly did not raise any opposition. There was
some individual lobbying of Board of Regents members to explain to them what we
were doing that I was not involved in, because I did not know any of the members
of the Board of Regents. I think Bob Lanzillotti did do some lobbying, and some of
the others like Al Warrington did some lobbying.
P: For you. For the program.
S: For the approval of the school. Right. We knew it was scheduled for a Board of
Regents meeting in Tampa in April of 1977, as I recall--I think it was the month of
April--and we started planning a celebration event concurrent, and we sent out
notices that assuming this does get approved [we would hold this victory celebration].
We had it hedged, basically. I guess we did not tell people, but we had it hedged.
Our plan was as soon as it was approved we would go on with the celebration as it
was planned and celebrate the launch of the School of Accounting. If the proposal
was turned down, we would simply make it a celebration of all this fund raising that
took place. Some of it, of course, was geared to the school, but some of it had been
very successful for the department. So we had this event set up and went to the
Board of Regents meeting. They approved it, so it turned into a celebration event
to start the school.
P: You were covering everything, weren't you? [laughter] So the big event, then, was
approved in Tampa.
S: Yes, in Tampa. We had a dinner that night, and all the members of the Board of
Regents attended. Most of our steering committee were there, and a good portion
of our faculty were there.
P: Tell me about this business of making it a six-year experimental program. Why?
S: The primary reason was because we had gone so far in raising funds to operate a
freestanding school. There was just no way that the University would approve that
at that point, nor was there enough evidence that was the way to go, because no one
else really had done it. So the only feasible way to go was to make it experimental.
That was also the only way to get around the constitutional issue. The experimental
notion was there before the constitutional issue came up, but the experimental notion
really got firmly put in place to resolve the constitutional issue, not just
experimenting with a new program.
P: Now, did this mean that at the end of six years you were going to look at the whole
program and say whether it was successful or not?
P: If it was not, you would then go back to the old system?
S: Essentially, we had a letter from Bob Bryan saying that at the end of the six years
it would be reviewed, and at that time one of two things would happen: either a
constitutional amendment would be requested to let the school be freestanding, as
originally proposed, or it would revert back to departmental status. As it turned out,
neither one of those two things happened.
P: So the experiment did not mean that during this time you were innovating and
creating new curricula and doing all of those wonderful things to see whether they
would work or not. That would have happened regardless.
S: Some of those things would have happened, yes. They certainly happened faster and
better, for the most part, with the School of Accounting umbrella because it created
a sharper focal point. I think it certainly became a very quick focal point for the
students, I think it continued to be a focal point for fund raising, and I think it was
a factor in helping to hire of some faculty members.
P: Did you feel during the early period, when all of this was being organized, "What in
the hell am I getting myself into? I have such a pleasant life just being chairman of
S: I am not sure I realized that at the outset. I think I realized that more as I got into
it. It certainly used a lot of energy, and it created a certain amount of conflict that
you would not normally have in administration as you try to chart new territory and
try to live up to this freestanding notion with persons who really do not want you to
be freestanding. So certainly there were times when I wondered what I had gotten
But, see, the other thing, too, is that we created a lot of attention on the national
scene, and everybody was looking at the University of Florida to try to find out what
was going on, because we were the highest ranking university to do this first.
Missouri is a good university but does not rank as high as the University of Florida.
It is not far down the list, but in accounting, it certainly does not rank as high. BYU
has a super accounting program, but they do not have a doctoral program. There are
some limitations there. We were the first of the so-called elite universities to do this.
P: So the eyes of the world were on Gainesville.
S: No doubt about it. I also helped organize the Federation of Schools of Accountancy
[FSA]. That was going on about the same time, and I was one of the charter
participants. In the first two or three years we made presentations there about our
school. I remember that the second or third year when I made a presentation, a
good friend of mine [was there] who had become director of the school of accounting
at [the University of] Georgia at that point (they had organized a school just after
we had). We were over at the coffee table--he did not know I was behind him--and
I overheard him say to somebody else, "Everybody is still looking at the University
of Florida." That clearly was the case for a while. So we got a lot of national
attention. But it also increased the work effort and involvement. But it probably
had a certain amount of excitement to it, as well.
P: Go on and tell me a little more about Lanzillotti's involvement during these very
S: Well, as I said, we could not have done it without him.
P: And he was certainly involved with the fund raising. But [tell me about his
participation] from that point on.
S: We did run into some problems in the sense that this became such a high-profile
thing. As I mentioned before, I think he got flak from some other deans. And we
had some problems in terms of defining what freestanding really meant and what
director meant. So just in terms of processing little things, we had some disputes over
what was form and what was substance. He still wanted to process documents
through the associate dean of the college, and it seemed to me that freestanding
meant that they did not detour through there. We had initially this concern about
sending some of our proposals through other parts of the college, [like the]
curriculum committee, and it took us a while to straighten that out. We do not do
that anymore. We are still freestanding in that sense. There just were a number of
things that came up.
Also, then I became president of the Federation of Schools of Accountancy. I
remember one incident when I had to go out and testify for a 150-hour program, [a
program] which all the business deans were opposed to. Bob wrote me kind of a
nasty little note and said, "I do not think you ought to be doing this," or something
to that effect. I had to write him back and clearly point out that I was speaking as
president of FSA and would not be speaking for the University of Florida. He said
I should disavow my association with the University of Florida; I should make clear
that I was not speaking for the University of Florida. I explained to him it would be
clear that I was there as president of the Federation of Schools of Accountancy. I
think he started getting pressure from some other deans. So we ran into some
problems, [mostly] definitional kinds of things.
P: Well, I know that Bob is no shrinking violet at all.
S: That is correct.
P: And I was wondering if he was not becoming [a bit anxious]--"Simmons is getting a
little bit too big for his britches, and the more he grows, it is taking away from me."
S: I do not know that there was that. In hindsight, I will [admit] I think I probably
made a political mistake in the sense that there was a lot of attention focused on the
school, and of course with me as immediate director, with that being my interest,
people would come to me, and [there were] these national presentations that they
were asking me to do. I think I made a mistake in not involving Bob more than I
did. Bob and I are still friends today; we still respect each other, and I have to give
him extreme credit for helping us do this initially. I think some of the differences
that we had--which ultimately caused me to resign once over a dispute and then a
year or two later step down probably earlier than I would have otherwise (the tension
just got too great)--probably could have been avoided if I had been a little smoother
in keeping him involved rather than just doing things on my own.
P: What was the problem that developed between you and Bob? Was it a matter of
S: It was just several issues over this notion of freestanding.
P: And you defined it differently than he defined it.
S: That is right. One of the things that was committed was that we would have separate
identifiable space. That is a phrase. What does it mean? Well, it meant one thing
to me and something else to Bob, apparently. We got into a real dispute over the
building because our alumni persons wanted to see something that was pretty clearly
identifiable as the School of Accounting, and as we started to evolve a plan for the
new building, that was not being clearly delineated. So that plus a number of other
issues [contributed to some disagreements]. I felt like I was in a trusteeship position
with these funds that were given to us from outside supporters based upon a
freestanding school. I got to a point one time where I felt that maybe I was getting
into an impossible position [in] my role as a trustee and in making certain
commitments to the supporters, so I resigned.
P: You did resign?
S: Yes. The School of Accounting faculty immediately met and generated a resolution
to Bob asking that he not accept the resignation. A few days passed, and some of
the alumni met.
P: What are the dates?
S: There is actually a copy of the resolution that was passed.
P: Are we free to include this in the [file along with this interview]?
S: Well, it is correspondence that certainly is not public but is public within the
University, so I guess it can be included. The bottom line is we were able to resolve
this reasonably well.
P: Well, that is the important thing, because you are still here and he is still here.
S: That is right, and we could not have done it without Bob. On the other hand, I think
it would be misleading if we sort of gave the impression that this happened without
P: But probably that same thing would be true if we were discussing any other aspect
of the University of Florida.
S: I think that is true. You have to keep in mind that there were deans all over the
country who killed this thing [at their respective institutions] and did not even let it
go forward. There are some big examples, like the University of Illinois and the
University of Texas. There were programs that were leading this effort before [we
were] that were not successful in ever bringing it about.
P: Has Bob Lanzillotti continued to support your fund-raising and doing all of these
other things over the years?
S: You will have to ask Bob. I believe Bob regards the school with a certain amount
of pride. He likes to be involved with us, he likes to be involved with our alumni,
[and] he likes to handle the golf outing when our steering committee meets. I think
Bob, despite the problems we have had over the years, views, like myself, the
accomplishment as being very significant. I think when you talk to him you will find
he takes pride in the School of Accounting.
P: It happened on his watch.
S: That is right, and he did have something to do with it.
P: I want to ask you about the University curriculum committee. What were you
presenting to them?
S: I was a little surprised we had to go through them, but basically the whole proposal
went to them, partly because we were changing the degree programs. But the whole
proposal, including the proposal for the School of Accounting, went through them.
That was the first step before it could go to the senate.
P: What is this 150-hour program that you were talking about?
S: As I said, it is almost like two circles--the 150-hour program is one circle, and the
School of Accounting is another circle, and the two strongly overlap. You can have
one without the other, but it is stronger if you have both of them together. The
movements started about the same time, so we were working within the state of
Florida very early on to try to get the state to adopt a 150-hour requirement for
accounting majors because the feeling in the profession was that the knowledge had
grown so much that it was impossible to get it within four years and that we needed
a 150-hour requirement. So we were working on that at the same time, and that was
passed by Florida. Florida was about the second or third state to pass it. Florida
was the first state to implement it. By the time we organized the School of
Accounting, we knew that was very likely to be a rule in Florida, so it just
strengthened the School of Accounting.
P: Now, when a freshman enrolls at the University of Florida and his commitment is to
take a degree in the School of Accounting, you control him completely right from day
one in terms of his curriculum?
S: Well, of course, the first two years most of the students will spend in the liberal arts
college where, of course, they take all of the University requirements. Once they get
into the School of Accounting then they do become an AC student. We carry all the
files on them, and we are the advisor and the counselor, and we do certify the
P: How many hours does the student need the first two years in order to get into the
S: If they are a transfer student we basically expect the A.A. degree, and if it is our own
student it is essentially the completion of the first two years and the specified
courses, the University general education requirements, and there are preprofessional
courses. So we look at that. We basically expect them to have completed essentially
the freshman and sophomore years.
P: You counsel these students in their freshman year?
S: No, we do not.
P: So there is no way for you to say, "We want you to take a survey course in U.S.
S: No. We do not actually start to officially counsel them, to my knowledge, [until their
junior year]. I have been away from this now for several years, so you would really
need to ask the current administrative people to be precise on this, but I do not think
we have any significant formal contact with them until they apply for the School of
P: Is this good or bad?
S: I think it is good. I mean, it does mean that you need to get information out in other
ways and make people aware of the school, but that seems to have happened pretty
naturally on its own. I basically believe in the division of colleges. I never did get
involved in the politics of the general college. I do not know whether it was a good
or bad idea. I do not have a problem with the first two years being housed in liberal
arts. But I believe a professional discipline like engineering or business or law--
medicine is a little different--basically it ought to be upper division and in some cases
postgraduate. Many people now feel accounting ought to be postgraduate.
P: Do you feel that your accountants need to have some of the humanities courses?
S: Oh, yes. That has probably become more important now. It was always important,
but the relative importance of it has probably increased today as compared to what
it was when it was organized as a school.
S: Because of the complexity of business and because of globalization. There is
certainly more concern over issues like being able to manage a diversified work
force, even in accounting, or being able to go in and audit persons from a different
culture, to understand different cultures. Business decisions and accounting audit
teams are done more and more with teamwork, where you have to work with other
people to produce the product. So I would say it is not just in accounting.
Accounting and business are tied in many ways, and I would say for both business
and accounting that an emphasis on a greater appreciation of individuals and cultures
has increased significantly in the last few years.
P: When you were actually involved in the program as the director, and maybe even
since then, have you been disappointed in the quality of the students that have come
to you from the community colleges or from the program here at the University of
Florida? Can they read? Can they write?
S: There are several different questions in there. The bottom line is that we get very
good students here. Most of our faculty we hired from northern schools, primarily
the so-called Big Ten conference schools, because they have been the longstanding,
prestigious grantors of Ph.D.s in accounting, along with some private schools like [the
University of] Chicago and Stanford [University]. We have always sort of asked
ourselves over the years--of course, I came from Ohio State and Minnesota--how our
students compare, and the general feeling has been that the top students are just as
good. We had a bigger tail here, though, of poor students. Basically, in accounting
we cut off that tail by admission standards. We just could not take everybody
anyway--it has probably been pretty good that we could not take everybody--so we
get pretty uniformly good students.
Community college transfers are always a problem. It was a problem at Minnesota
when I was there. It is a problem with every university I talk to. It is a culture shock
for them when they get to a university like the University of Florida. We have a
much higher failure rate among community college transfers, and I think that is not
unique to us. That is true everywhere. It does not mean that community colleges
are doing a bad job. It is just that it is a little different culture, and we get different
students. I do not know what all the reasons are, but it is always a culture shock and
always a transition problem, particularly when they go into accounting, which is one
of the tougher disciplines on campus. So we have problems with that. We have a
problem with that all over the country.
The other thing we saw at the University of Florida when various of us came in over
the years is that it takes a little more effort to get students to work hard. I think that
the work ethic now is so well known in the School of Accounting that maybe students
know for the most part coming in what is expected of them. But still you find more
students running off to the beach on a Friday here than you did, say, at Minnesota,
where there is no beach to go to. It is a little bit of a problem. I think it holds the
University of Florida back a little bit. I think that this is an excellent institution. I
think the students are good and that they work reasonably hard. I think that the
work ethic is maybe not as strong, at least as some of the northern universities.
P: As a freestanding school, who hires the faculty in accounting?
S: We basically make our own faculty decisions. Now, we are no longer a freestanding
school. At the end of that six-year experimental period, as I mentioned, neither the
freestanding nor reverting back to a department happened as the letter from Bob
Bryan to Al Warrington indicated would be the case. Essentially, we reached a
compromise situation where we would be a school within the College of Business
with certain guaranteed autonomies. So we maintained our curriculum autonomy;
we control our own curriculum and our own degree programs. We maintain a
separate budget autonomy; we do not share the budget with the college except on
some common things like computers and libraries.
P: Does this mean in the budget that you prepare your budget and submit it as though
you were a college?
S: And the dean really has to wear two hats. The way it is supposed to work, and the
way I understand it is working now, is the dean will go over with each associate dean
of the college .. Well, one of the compromises we made when we became a school
within the college on a permanent basis is there are two associate deans: the
associate dean and director for the School of Accounting and the associate dean for
the College of Business. Basically, what is supposed to happen, and what I
understand does happen, is that the dean essentially has two hearings with Gene
Hemp and/or the provost.
P: So you are allocated X number of dollars, and then you can spend those dollars as
you see fit?
S: That is correct.
P: So you do not need to go beyond that. Obviously, the dean may have to sign off on
P: So does this mean that the director, then, is responsible for hiring his faculty?
S: Yes, even though the dean certainly is the dean of the school as well.
P: Oh, yes, I understand that.
S: So the dean gets involved, too. That will vary a little according to the dean [as it
did] with Bob Lanzillotti even before we became a school. At that time we had
pretty strong department chairmen, and most of the time the department chairmen
were making the offers. I always made the offer; I always decided how much to offer
and wrote the letter. In some later years that was done by the dean, and today it is
done by the dean; I think the dean actually may write the offer letter.
P: Do you have a situation where you share faculty, [where] a person who is in the
School of Accounting might also be teaching economics or something else?
S: No, there are no joint appointments. From time to time that has been talked about
where there is some sort of a shared interest, but there are not any actual joint
appointments per se right now.
Going back to autonomies, to clarify that situation, we originally started a
freestanding school, and then at the end of a six-year experimental period we were
placed in the college on a permanent basis with a senate document, basically, that
gave us certain autonomies, [like] autonomy over curriculum and autonomy over
One place that has become fuzzy where we were separate and we are not very
separate anymore is on promotion and tenure. That now runs through a college
committee and on to the personnel committee. The compromise there was that we
are supposed to file our own, and we do file our own promotion and tenure criteria,
but they have to be consistent with the college as well as the University. So in terms
of a freestanding school, one of the things we probably have lost that we did have at
one time is promotion and tenure autonomy. Most of the other things are intact, and
we really do operate as a freestanding school.
P: How do your salaries compare with the college?
S: The market sets that more than anything else. Accounting traditionally has been the
highest. In the last few years, I think, finance probably may, on a national average,
actually have passed [accounting]. I am talking about starting salaries, because those
are the easiest things to tell. The starting salaries have always been higher in
accounting the entire time I have been here with the exception, I think, of finance.
In the last two or three years finance has caught up with, or may in fact actually have
passed accounting very slightly. In terms of across the ranks, I do not know. We do
not really keep up with that very well.
P: Is that a problem for you, when accounting is compared with business?
S: No. Business, of course, would have the same problem with many other disciplines
P: I mean, we in the history department are very unhappy with the salaries over in
accounting and law and medicine, but what else is new? [laughter]
S: Right. To some extent we have had the same thing with accounting within the
college, but not that much.
P: That is right.
S: There certainly is a hierarchy where accounting has been the highest--maybe finance
is now. Economics is probably the lowest, and that can create some problems. Right
now it is overshadowed by the fact that everybody is unhappy with their salaries.
P: Including the history department faculty. [laughter]
S: So I think if there is unhappiness, it is directed at the state rather than in the
P: John, explain to me the difference between the four-year program and the five-year
S: The basic difference is what you can do in the senior year. If we look at a five-year
program, you can think about a four-one or a three-two. The 150-hour notion is that
you really need to have the students in a graduate setting, and it is not considered
politically expedient or practical, and some people might even think it is undesirable
to go to with, say, a four-two. Now, it may eventually evolve to a four-two, much like
the law school evolved. But the thing that was settled on as being the best program
for now for accounting is the 150-hour program, and this is basically a national
decision. Not everybody agrees with it, not even in accounting, but it is a national
decision. Half the states have now adopted it.
The real difference is you can do some different things in two years. There is not
going to be much difference in the junior year, but in the senior year--if you know
they are basically graduate students who are going on to the fifth year--there are
different things you can do than if they are just going to quit at the end of four years.
There are other differences, but that is the most telling difference, I think, in the eyes
of people who support the 150-hour program. Obviously, it starts out with the notion
that you need five years of work. The 150-hour program, then, has been talked
about as 150 hours rather than a graduate degree because of the political climate
that you probably cannot require a graduate degree and get away with it. There are
minority questions, [and] there are lots of four-year schools around. So basically
what people have settled on is a 150-hour requirement. For most schools that is
going to be a graduate degree. The ideal way to get it is probably not a four-one but
a three-two. That is what we do here.
P: Did you institute a placement program from the very beginning?
S: No. We have always used University placement. We certainly have something called
Beta Alpha Psi, which is our accounting organization, that has recruiters come in and
present meetings and receptions and cocktail parties, so there is a lot of recruiting
that goes on, specifically in accounting. But in terms of official recruiting, we have
always relied on the University.
P: Have you been successful in placing your graduates in ranking [firms]?
S: Very. The recruiters clearly tell us that our students are the best in the state and
among the best in the country. We are at a very high level with all the firms in
terms of relative numbers they hire here. The market has been tight the last couple
of years, and for the last two years not all of our good students have been placed,
and that is the first time we have seen that. That is a function of the market.
P: What about the University of Florida graduates holding faculty positions elsewhere?
S: Do you mean like Ph.D.s that we grant?
P: Where are they around? Do you have any deans, any school directors?
S: No deans or directors.
P: Any superstars?
S: There are some. The two things that came the slowest at the school [are] it took
longer for the research to develop and it took longer for the Ph.D. program to gain
the strength that it should. Those, as you know, just take longer to do. We could
put the curriculum in place, we could raise admission standards, we could get good
students in place pretty fast, we got the faculty in place pretty fast. The thing that
took the longest was to get the research program up. We are now pretty consistently
ranked about fourteenth in the country in terms of publications [and] citations, which
is much higher than we were before.
Our Ph.D. program is a lot better than it used to be. But we do not have the history.
We are relatively weaker there than we would be in terms of the view of our overall
accounting program. Even though our Ph.D. program is fully accepted and viewed
very highly--our good students can go anywhere (Texas, Illinois, Michigan)--that has
been a little harder to come by and a little more recent. Because it has been more
recent, we do not probably have as many superstars out there as Michigan or Illinois
or Texas would have, where they had the Ph.D. program in place.
P: What are the other major programs in the South that would compare with Florida's?
S: Obviously I am biased. I do not think there is another accounting program in the
South until you get out to the University of Texas that most people do consider to
be at the same level as ours, although the gap may not be great. But I think that
[there are quality programs at] Georgia and Florida State, certainly [the University
of] North Carolina. At North Carolina, the accounting program has been a little bit
down, but it is coming back. I would say in terms of institutions and Ph.D. programs,
people view accounting at North Carolina to be a more comparable place in the
South. In terms of overall accounting programs, probably the [good] ones would be
Georgia, Florida State, Tennessee, but I do not think there is anyone that views any
one of those to be quite at the same level as ours.
P: Nationally are we in the top ten?
S: By most surveys we have been in the top ten, particularly with our master's program.
The surveys tend to look at some specific things like research, and we have been
about fourteenth. They primarily look at undergraduate programs and master's
programs, and we have been as high as fourth or fifth in our master's program
nationwide. The undergraduate program is usually a couple of notches below that.
But yes, we have generally been in the top ten.
P: What was the approximate enrollment in accounting when it started in 1977? Less
S: Yes. We have maintained our enrollment pretty consistently. As a matter of fact,
in the last couple of years we have tried to reduce it a little bit. But it has been
generally right around 600 in total; that would be a pretty good figure. It has gotten
up to maybe 700 or 800 and maybe down to 500 or 600, but it has been pretty
consistently around 600 or 700. The thing that has changed is that we have fewer
undergraduates and more master's [students]. Our master's program now has about
190 people in it, and that was virtually like 3 or 4 people when I came down here.
We have tried to keep our numbers about the same, but what has happened is we
have a higher proportion of graduate students and a lower proportion, relatively, of
undergraduate students as compared to when the school was first started.
P: When did you leave as director?
S: Oh, some of it was burnout, and some was tension between Bob and me. As I said,
we have a good, long-term relationship, but I felt that the school would probably be
better off at that point to get somebody new in and continue with it from there.
P: So what did you do?
S: I moved into a chaired position, the Peat, Marwick professorship, which was not too
important one way or the other. But what did happen and what had already
happened and probably one of the two things that really kept me here rather than
going off and particularly being in administration somewhere else was my vested
interest in the school. In some ways I still view it as a child, so to speak.
P: And you were the godfather.
S: I am not sure what the right term is, but I think probably the school means more to
me than perhaps to anybody else on our faculty, though it certainly means a lot to
a number of people. But that kept me here, [along with] the fact that I felt like I
could still contribute something to the school and help it progress.
The other thing that also kept me satisfied is that I got involved very quickly at the
national level in things like being on the Board of Examiners that administers the
national CPA examination. I was also involved as an officer in the American
Accounting Association. I have been--and continue to be--involved in a variety of
things like that which sort of satisfied, I guess, whatever one needs to satisfy in terms
of ego feedback and things like that.
P: So when you took over the chair, was the salary OK?
S: Yes, but it is not like some I have heard on campus where you take a twelve-month
salary and convert it to nine. I did get a cutback.
P: You did not do as well, then, as [before].
S: No. Salary is not what has kept me here. It has been other things.
P: Has your help been good here?
S: Yes, it has.
P: So you have not regretted it, then.
P: What do you do as a professor?
S: Well, I teach full time most of the time. When I was president-elect and president
of the American Accounting Association I did not. But I teach primarily graduate
P: Did you teach when you were the director?
S: An administrator has to teach at least one course a year, and I did that.
P: What do you teach now?
S: I teach mainly graduate courses in financial accounting. I am teaching accounting
theory to our master's students this year. Last year I taught a course called
Advanced Accounting, which is primarily consolidations and issues related to
P: So how many hours are you in the classroom?
S: My normal load is two courses each term, and those are generally three-hour courses.
P: Are you still able to do research?
S: No. I still mostly substitute policy involvement at the national level. For example,
I was in Washington, DC, last week and got an introduction to GATT [General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] and NAFTA [North American Free Trade
Agreement] because both GATI and NAFTA have provisions that include
accounting services. So we are putting together an international qualifications board
to look at reciprocal qualifications in other countries. They had worked it out with
Canada before I got on the board, but they have to work it out potentially with
Mexico and about thirty-five countries in GATT. So I still stay [active in accounting
at the national level]. That really takes most of my outside time.
P: I wanted to ask you about this Accounting Research Center. What is it?
S: The Accounting Research Center was organized initially to try to serve as a catalyst
to raise the level of faculty research. One of the things that was a little bit lower-
level performance than one would like when I came was accounting research. There
were some research centers around, and we did not have one. In looking at that
mechanism, I thought that an accounting research center would serve as a focal
point, if you get the right person in there, or as a catalyst to elevate the research a
little faster. So we organized the Accounting Research Center, and Rashad Abdel-
khalik, the graduate research professor, really developed it. He was the second
person in that job (the first person only stayed a year), and he is the one who really
developed it. It did serve as a catalyst. They also did some conferences and started
a journal in accounting, which we still do today. It was very active from 1977 through
1985 or 1986.
The research center then went through a period of inactivity of about--I forget exactly
when this happened--maybe three or four or five years ago, and we are just now
bringing it back off the shelf. It is going to be more active in terms of doing the
same thing and will serve as a catalyst for faculty research, sponsoring some
conferences, and continuing with this journal.
P: Who is the person that stayed only one year?
S: A fellow by the name of Russell Barefield.
P: He came from where?
S: The University of Arizona.
P: And where did he go?
S: He went back to Arizona. He was here only a few months, and he decided that he
really missed Arizona and wanted to go back to Arizona. He was here maybe nine
months, but within three or four months we knew he was going to be leaving.
P: And his successor?
S: Was and is Rashad Abdel-khalik.
P: Where is he from?
S: We hired him from Duke.
P: It sounds like he is an Indian, though.
S: Egyptian. Now, Rashad is no longer the director of the research center. He
basically stepped out of that position when he became editor of the Accounting
Review, which is our number-one academic publication in accounting. So that is in
part when the research center became more inactive. Now we have a new director
that has just been appointed.
P: Who is that?
S: A fellow by the name of Robert Knechel. He has just come up through the ranks
and is ready to take on those kinds of responsibilities.
At any rate, the research center was set up basically for three or four things. As I
said, one of them--the main thing--was to be a catalyst to help faculty. Rashad was
brought in as a catalyst, and he was told initially that one of his responsibilities was
to critique and read other papers, involve faculty in projects, and things like that.
That worked. Rashad, more than anybody, was a big factor in developing the
research in our doctoral program.
P: Did that depend on outside funding?
S: Yes. We had no funding from the state initially. It was set up solely with our own
enrichment funding. Later the state took over some small funding, some secretarial
help and some summer support, I think, for the director. It initially was funded
solely from the outside and still will be funded some from the outside.
P: So does the school do an annual fund-raising thing for its enrichment program?
S: Yes, we still do. We do not go out and secure funds for the School of Accounting
organizational effort anymore. And, of course, we have the Fisher funds, also. But
there still is an annual enrichment fund drive.
P: So the director is out there massaging.
S: Yes, no doubt about it. He has to work with the people involved. It somewhat runs
itself in the sense that these are campaigns primarily that the firms put on, and
somebody in the firm usually directs it. But sure, the school administrator still has
to encourage these people and work with them.
P: You were able to increase it from $10,000 to $50,000 in one year. Where is it today?
S: More than that. I could not tell you the figure offhand because when we get the
reports and look at them, we also obviously focus on the Fisher funds as well, which
make it even bigger. So I would have to guess. You would have to ask Doug
Snowball [director, Fisher School of Accounting]. My guess would be that it must
be more than $50,000. One thing [is that] we did not have any chairs at the time.
So it is more complex now. It is kind of hard to separate the funds because we have
several chaired professorships. We had none when I came, and now we have the
Peat, Marwick one, which I am in plus several others.
P: Is that the first one?
S: That was the first one. And Arthur Andersen [presently held by John Kramer] and
Ernst & Whinney [held by Emmett D. Smith] and Deloitte, Touche [held by Doug
Snowball]. We have at least four or five chairs.
P: Do not tell me you did not get a Ben Hill Griffin. [laughter]
S: No. These are all CPA firms. [laughter] As a matter of fact, when I brought in
Russ Barefield as the first research director and then subsequently Rashad, I had to
bring them in as a Matherly professor, which was the only mechanism we had for a
chaired professor at the time. And we had to provide our own funding. All we had
was a title. So both of those individuals were brought in to what we called the
Matherly professorship. I do not think anyone is using those anymore. It was simply
a title, and we provided the funding. Of course, it was later, then, that Rashad
became the graduate research professor.
At any rate, I sort of side-stepped your question. The funding now, you see, [consists
of] the Fisher fund, these chaired professorships, the unrestricted funds, and they all
sort of get lumped together. I could not tell you offhand what would be precisely the
amount of unrestricted enrichment funding. You would have to ask Doug Snowball.
P:' I want to talk to you about Fred Fisher. How did he come aboard?
S: Fred is a little more recent. There probably are other persons who can tell you
better than I, but it basically came from someone in the foundation, a contact that
approached Fred. Fred had a particular interest in the School of Accounting. As
I understand it--and this came after me, so I was not directly involved in it--that was
not so much one of us out there looking for [a contributor] as it was the foundation
doing what it is supposed to do, and that is finding someone who is interested in us.
P: And Fred was interested.
S: Fred was interested in us, and he is an ideal person to name the school for.
P: It has been a wonderful marriage, has it not?
S: It has been a great marriage. Not only is Fred a great person to have the school
named after, but he is alive, and he is interested, and he shows up.
P: And he is smart.
S: Yes. So if you were to go out and try to find somebody to name the school after,
you could not find anybody that is better than Fred Fisher. Now, if you are trying
to find somebody who maybe deserved it more than anyone else, Al Warrington
clearly, in terms of input to the school, [would be the one].
P: He just contributed $6 million. [laughter]
S: That is right. There is nobody in Al's category in terms of effect on the school,
particularly in its early, crucial years. But in terms of just finding somebody that you
would like to have the school named after, Fred is an ideal person.
P: Well, is there anything within the building itself that is named after Al?
S: No. We have named Al as one of our distinguished alumni. Al was the first, as you
might expect, when we started this. Bob Ellison and Fred Edenfield have also been
named. They were all among the first two or three people to be named. Doug
Thompson has been named. So almost all of the people who were really involved
with us ..
P: The real strengths.
S: It was not just involvement. They had to have achieved outside; they had to have
achieved significant things other than involvement with us. So it took a combination
to be named as a distinguished alumnus.
P: Now, these are distinguished alumni within the college?
S: Within the Fisher School of Accounting.
P: Within the Fisher School, not distinguished alumni for the University of Florida.
S: No. I am not sure whether any of them have been so named or not. Some of them
certainly deserve it. But no, this particular one I am referring to was started within
the School of Accounting, and we generally most often announce one a year.
P: I started to ask you before, and I am not sure we got that answer completely, about
superstars. Are there any accounting Gators chairing departments and serving as
deans outside of the University of Florida?
S: Well, there is one. Again, what happened is our Ph.D. program was more of a
regional program, I think, than anything else, in terms of looking to people that were
here in the past. So our fast-tracking people have been fairly recent and have not
been out there a long time. There is one very clear superstar that came here and
went through the Ph.D. program in two years, a woman who has had a very fast
track. She is currently an associate dean at William and Mary and has held some
chaired positions. A very big chaired position at Texas A & M was her last position
before this one. She has decided she wants to get into administration. She now
holds both a chair and the associate deanship at William & Mary.
P: Who is she?
S: Her name is Wanda Wallace, and she clearly is a superstar.
P: What about in government?
S: No. Our superstars have been more in public accounting, where you might expect
them to end up. At the Ph.D. level we have faculty in key positions at major
universities like Texas and Illinois and the University of Southern California and
places like that, but in terms of them either becoming the equivalent of a graduate
research professor or something like that, the only one I can think of offhand is
In terms of graduates of the program, we have several very prominent people. We
have the head of one of the Big Six firms, Mike Cook. This is comparable to being
chairman of a very large corporation. We have a graduate who is CEO of Northwest
Airlines. We have someone who is about second- or third-in-command in charge of
the international part of the accounting firm with another firm. So we have some
very high-ranking individuals.
Then again, this is not a direct answer to Ph.D., because, as I said, we have some
very good Ph.D.s. But I cannot identify too many real superstars out there because,
again, most of the really good Ph.D.s have been turned out since about 1980, and
that is not a very long time span.
P: John, one of the areas that I would like to explore a bit with you has to do with
ethics. That is a rising area of concern throughout universities, not just our
University. Where does this fit into the accounting curriculum?
S: There are two kinds of ethics in accounting. One is the professional code of ethics,
which deals more with how you behave as an auditor and things like independence
with respect to a client. The issue that receives more attention, I think, recently has
been the general ethics question.
P: That is really what I am asking about.
S: All right. The profession as a whole has done more than we have. Arthur Andersen,
for example, has done a lot of work in putting out cases and videos that people can
use in teaching ethics. The American Accounting Association that I was president
of three years ago organized a series of symposiums on ethics and developed some
cases and some videos. I went to two of the symposiums. So there has been a lot
Now, we are still struggling with what to do at the University of Florida. I have
taught an ethics segment in one of the courses I teach. Others teach ethics cases
from time to time in courses they teach. We do not have a very systematic approach
to teaching the general ethics right now. The code of ethics, the professional ethics,
is covered in one of our courses for auditors. But the general ethics is an area that
not only the school but the whole college is working on, and it is an area in which
we probably are not doing as much as we should.
P: What was your involvement in the construction of the building?
S: I was director of the school at the time we approved the plans and was involved in
the discussions on the plans. That is one reason that I got into a dispute with Bob
Lanzillotti in terms of how separate the accounting facilities would be identified. So
one of the things that happened then is we agreed that the School of Accounting
complex offices would basically be on one side of the building. You go up the main
entrance, and the School of Accounting complex would be on one side and the
College of Business administrative offices would be on the other side. So it is pretty
much parallel. I basically designed the administrative space for accounting in the
sense that I did not design it but I approved it--I said, "Move this line here, and move
that office there," and that sort of thing. It has been (partially) redone since then,
but basically I was involved in creating our space needs and approving the design of
our space needs.
P: Is that space thrown into the room allocation pool for classrooms?
S: The classroom space? The building has only four auditorium kinds of classrooms,
so there was not much classroom space in the new [building].
P: So you did not have to run into that.
S: We have control over one of those rooms, yes. The College of Business, of which
we are a part, has control of the other three.
P: Do you have any space in Bryan Hall?
S: None that is officially designated. This is one place where our reputation actually
exceeds our actual quality. Our space situation is poor. Our classroom situation is
poor. One of the things that helped us get that new building is we took Al
Warrington and other alumni through the old library stacks on Bryan [Hall], where
we had some of our faculty housed years ago, and that was all part of this discussion
of creating the school and getting our own space, and that helped get the new
building. But the one thing that we never have been able to be very successful in is
We are working on that now, as a matter of fact. Doug is doing a proposal for the
central administration to try to get us some space that we can design to use
computers in [that are] interactive between the instructor and the students. There
are places that have done that. The University of Southern California is probably
the best example of a school of accounting that has maybe pulled it off in terms of
some of these things better than we have. They have a dean that does report to the
dean of the College of Business, but he is also a dean. Of course, USC is a private
school. But they have a dean of the School of Accounting. That is not the important
thing. The important thing is they have their own building, and with their own
building they have been able to do a number of things classroom wise and library
wise and things like that that we have not been able to do.
P: Does the building need to be expanded?
S: We need facilities that are not in that building. We need a professional reading
room for our master's students and we need computerized classrooms where they can
do interactive kinds of things. Our classrooms are just terrible. It is not just us--it
is the College of Business. All the classrooms are really bad. A lot of the
classrooms on this campus are not good, but there are some areas that have good
classrooms. We have third-rate classrooms; there is no doubt about it. And that is
not true only in accounting. It is true in the College of Business.
P: The school does not have its own library, does it?
S: No, it does not.
P: Does it need it?
S: It would help. It certainly is something that [would be beneficial to the school and
to our programs]. It is one of the things that I tried to do when I became director
of the school. For a while there was a reading room over in Bryan before it was
remodeled that was staffed by the main library but was designated as a reading room.
We took a corner of that and put things up there that were professional in nature
that the library would not normally have over in the main library so that the students
could go up and check out and read through a professional magazine. We also kept
some references up there for master's students to use. We operated that for two or
three years. Then it became a little costly and a little awkward, and we dropped that
and have never replaced it. We do need a separate professional reading room kind
of facility for accounting students. Some programs have it.
P: As director, what did you do to try to relate the faculty to the students?
S: It was not so much the faculty and the students. It was the students being able to
have better contact with the profession. I will tell you sort of an interesting little
story. CPA firms come on campus from time to time and get together with the
faculty so they can get to know them better and have an exchange of ideas. The first
meeting I went to with a CPA firm was with Bob Lanzillotti and this particular
firm/recruiter--this was the very first meeting I had gone to; I had just arrived here--
cornered Bob and me and said something to the effect of, "We are not very happy
with [University of] Florida students. They are smart, but they do not know anything
about the profession, and they are not very good at things like interviewing." I do
not remember the whole assortment of things, but basically they let us know that our
students, while maybe intellectually sound, were just not with it in total. They went
on and said they would rather hire from Florida State.
P: [Our students were] socially inept.
S: Some of that, yes. "We would much rather hire from Florida State. Those students
up there have taken the time to learn about the profession. The program teaches
them about the profession. They know what they are getting into, they know how to
dress, they know how to interview." Again, I do not remember the entire assortment
of things, but [they were] along those lines.
So one of the first things I did was to try to change our Beta Alpha Psi program,
which is an evening program that brings in speakers. The faculty goes to that some,
but it mainly for interaction between the profession and students. We still to this day
have a very active professional program, and I think it has helped. We encourage
the faculty to participate in things like that, but I cannot say that outside of the
classroom that we have done anything specifically to try to increase the bond between
faculty and students.
There are things we have done, though, with the students, like they formed their own
council when we became a school. The students themselves lobbied to get the
accounting tassel at graduation to be separate from the College of Business. The
college has a drab gray or something like that, and accounting, if I remember right,
is aqua. So the students themselves, I think, have generated some self-interest. And
they hang around more, I think, because they identify with the school, and they are
A.C. [accounting] students. Certainly there is that much-stronger linkage there, so
I suppose that is a part of it.
P: Do you have a dress code?
P: So they can come looking just like students elsewhere on the campus.
S: That is right.
P: Do you insist in anything with the faculty?
S: No. A lot of times we do student presentations in classrooms, and this is happening
with increasing frequency, particularly at the graduate level, and we usually require
professional dress for a student group or an individual student that might be making
a presentation, but it is up to the individual faculty member. The Beta Alpha Psi
meetings often require professional dress to get the students used to that sort of
P: I was thinking that your building and your classes might be more public, more visible
than some other parts of the campus to alumni and to representatives of accounting
firms, so I was just wondering to what degree you encouraged your students to
present the proper image.
S: Well, again, we try to do it when [members of the profession] are going to be on
campus, and if there is a Beta Alpha Psi program that is bringing someone in, usually
that will indicate that professional attire is required--that is the word that is used.
Again, we do it sometimes with presentations in the classroom. But as far as the
faculty on a day-to-day basis and the students on a day-to-day basis, there is no
requirement. We try to make the students understand what professional dress is by
those exposures I just mentioned. But there is no day-to-day code, either for the
faculty or the students.
P: I was just wondering, in view of the complaint that you and Bob had gotten about the
students, whether you came back and said, "This is what we are going to do now."
S: No, we did not go that far. But we did make sure the students were exposed to the
Beta Alpha Psi program. They actually even had some programs like what do you
do in a recruiting session and topics like that.
P: Now, we have been talking a lot about Bob Lanzillotti. What about his two
successors? How did Alan Merten [dean, College of Business Administration, 1986-
1990] treat accounting and the school?
S: Alan, of course, was here only two or three years--I forget the exact number--and we
did not get into many issues. The process was pretty much in place, and we did not
get into many issues that surfaced when Alan was here, so I do not know that we had
much of a reading one way or the other.
P: John Kraft was here before, and then he came back.
S: John was not here when the school was developed. He was here before, he was
gone, and he came back after the school was in place.
S: When he was associate dean, again, things were pretty well entrenched. Then John
went out to Arizona State, where they have a professional school of accounting, and
got some more experience with a school of accounting there. John has been very
supportive. John accepts the mechanism, and he wears the two different hats when
he goes over for the budget hearing, and he allows us to live up to our agreements
in terms of the curriculum and all those kinds of things that we are supposed to do
separately. He has been very supportive in that sense.
P: So you consider him a strong friend in court.
S: Yes, I would say that is a fair assessment. Again, the one thing we have lost is our
promotion and tenure autonomy, and John is not inclined to do anything to correct
that or change that, I do not think. But I think there is no doubt but that John is a
friend and supporter.
P: How large is the faculty?
S: We are supposed to be twenty-five, which was the agreement when we became a
school. We are actually down to about twenty-one or twenty-two.
P: Were you responsible for Doug Snowball's coming to the University?
S: Yes. As a matter of fact, I mentioned earlier when we were talking that he
interviewed at a time when I could not be down here, so I had him fly through
Minneapolis, and Doug and I talked. I interviewed him at the airport in
Minneapolis, so I was still on the faculty at the University of Minnesota. I
subsequently made him an offer, which he accepted.
P: I thought with that accent that you had gone all the way to London. [laughter]
S: No. It is interesting [that] one time when Doug was still in Seattle and I was still in
Minneapolis I had the occasion to call him for some reason. I asked for Doug
Snowball, and the operator just broke up when I said the name Snowball. I do not
know why that tickled her so much. Doug was one of the first four people I hired.
P: All right. We are looking back--this is 1993. You arrived in 1974? You have been
here almost twenty years.
P: That is a long segment of your life. What do you want to say about it?
S: As I said before, it has been a good segment. It has not been without its frustrations.
P: Did it turn your hair gray?
S: It certainly turned while I was here and was probably accelerated a little by my being
involved in taking the department to a school. But it has been a valuable experience.
I have enjoyed it. It has been good for me as well as the University, I think. There
are a couple of other interesting things I have been able to do, like I served on the
athletic board for a couple of years. So there are a few side things that are kind of
To see the school develop the way it has, even though there have been times of
frustrations, and still to this day, things like the physical facilities are a frustration,
it has been an experience that not many people get to have.
In talking to people today who have an interest in administration, [I realize] there
are not many opportunities that exist like I had when I came here, where there are
a lot of faculty vacancies, a strong alumni group just itching for something to happen
and willing to pitch in and help, and a university that is pretty flexible. It (the
University) had a strong tradition but was not so entrenched as a Minnesota or an
Illinois or someplace like that where faculty are afraid to try anything new or
different. The foundation was even more flexible at the time, so we could do more
different things with less red tape. Everything was just right, and not many people
have the opportunity to experience anything like that which you would think probably
is going to have a lasting impact. So it has been a wonderful experience.
P: Are you involved in policy making in the school?
S: Yes, [but] certainly not like I was when I was the director of the school. But I have
been involved in most--maybe not quite all, but most--of our key policy committees.
And over time that has maintained pretty consistently. I would expect in the years
ahead that younger people will carry more of the burden, and they have been in a
sense, but I expect there will be more key policy committees I may not be on. But
in the past, yes, I think I have continued to play a big role.
P: Is the John Simmons that I am talking today in 1993 the same John Simmons that
arrived here in 1974?
S: No. We all change. One thing I have learned is that change does not come as
quickly as you would like it to. I have become more patient and maybe a little wiser.
I think that in a sense I am an advocate for change if it is necessary and [am] not
tied up in status quo. That is a characteristic I am not sure I knew I had when I
came here, but I have certainly been aware of its being consistent since then. If
anything has marked my career over this period of time, it has been being involved
in change, like the School of Accounting, the 150-hour program, [and] my
involvement in creating the Accounting Education Change Commission which is now
involved in changing the content of accounting education, and I found that to be very
rewarding. Maybe that (characteristic) is different now; maybe that just grew.
Maybe that developed as I [have been involved in all these changes]. Maybe I did
not have that when I came. But I still believe that it is important to change when
change is needed.
P: John, what do you do with your time now--beyond the classroom and working with
S: Well, up until last year I was very much tied up with the American Accounting
Association, and this year I am still chairman of the nominating committee. As a
matter of fact, at the end of this week I am going down to Orlando; I have scheduled
it down there.
P: Speak a little bit about your professional activities beyond the school itself.
S: About the time I stepped out of administration, I started in a series of things at the
national level that included what is called the CPA Exam Review Board, which is a
committee of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. I was on
that committee for three years and chaired it. I continued to be active for a while
P: What did you do as chair of that board?
S: That board is responsible for conducting basically an audit of the administration of
the CPA exam--not just the administration, but the preparation, administration, and
grading of the CPA exams. I actually went around to some states and audited, as did
the rest of the committee members, how the states were doing it. We audited the
people that prepared the exam, the people that graded the exam, and just followed
all functions. That board, of course, still exists today. So I was on that for three and
chaired it. That was a very time-consuming function.
At the same time I was still active in the Federation of Schools of Accountancy,
which I had helped organize. Then in about 1981 or 1982 I started diminishing my
involvement in that after I stepped out of administration.
About the time the Review Board started winding down I went on the Board of
Examiners of the AICPA, and served on three subcommittees there. One committee
prepares the practice part of the CPA exam, and the other was a grading
subcommittee. I was also on the task force that studied the CPA exam and
recognized and proposed some big changes in the CPA exam that will now be
implemented in 1994. That is another area of change I was involved in.
I had always been involved in the American Accounting Association [AAA], so about
the time the Board of Examiners started winding down [I became more active in the
AAA]. The last thing I did with them (the Board of Examiners) was a practice
analysis--I chaired a committee that helped design and hire the people to do a
practice analysis. That was a CPA practice analysis used to validate the exam. Then
I had to step off of that because I became president-elect of the American
Accounting Association, which is virtually a full-time job. As president-elect, you
appoint several hundred people to committees and set up a budget, and you make
several presentations. Then as president you follow [the organization's activities] and
go to all the activities and speak and so forth. I taught half time, basically one or
two courses a year, while I was doing that two-year time period.
That took us up until last year, and really it was only last year that I could return to
full-time teaching and feel like I could devote substantially all of my attention to full-
time teaching. That has been true over the last two years. I have been more
involved with internal things, trying to chair the committee to change our own
curriculum within the School of Accounting. We are going through significant
curriculum revisions; at least we are talking about what we might do. And [I am
involved in] some University committees and some college committees.
So what has happened since I got out of administration is I have had very significant
involvement in outside activities, and then in the last year or two I have turned more
back towards internal University activities. The main outside activity I am involved
in now is this international qualifications board that is just getting started. [Its
function is] to appraise qualifications of CPAs in other countries to [enable them to]
practice here in the United States. It has been busy. It really has been something
where one activity starts to wind down, something else seems to pop up to take its
place. Since I have been out of administration probably my key contribution has
been involvement at the national level in terms of policy kinds of issues.
P: What about the nonprofessional John Simmons? What do you do? Do you read?
Hunt? Fish? Travel?
S: I like to read, but my main activity is sailing. One of the things I have been able to
do in the last two years--as I have been able to get a little more time together--is
take my sailboat down to the Bahamas for six weeks two years ago, and I maxed out
at two months last year; we were down there for two months.
P: So that is a fun thing for you.
S: That is my main relaxation activity, and it is mainly done in the summer.
P: Do you travel?
S: I travel quite a bit in terms of these professional activities, quite a lot. It has been
a little less, again, in the past couple of years. But [I have had] extensive travel, and
you have to have an understanding wife. Sometimes she could go with me, but more
often she could not.
P: Both domestic and foreign?
S: Not extensively foreign. We had one meeting in Amsterdam with the European
accountants while I was president of the American Accounting Association that we
went to, and this April I am going to go to the European Accounting Association
meeting in Finland and also give a talk in Norway and possibly also two separate
presentations at two different universities. One is scheduled for sure; the other one
is still in the talking stage. But I will give at least one presentation in Norway [when
I] attend the European Accounting Association meeting in late April and [early] May,
right after classes are out.
P: What do you see as the future for the school?
S: I think the school is a dominant school. It has a high reputation. I think we need
to increase that. I think that we need to try to stay on the cutting edge, and that is
why we are looking at curriculum changes. We need to get better physical facilities.
I think the school will be fine. I think it is very highly regarded. Our basic notion
now is to make sure we do not get too comfortable and sit. Many programs have
done that. I could point to several major universities around the country that were
on top in reputation. Michigan was the number-one accounting program without
doubt for a period of years, and then it went through a period of time when they sort
of did nothing, and it really regressed. It had to come back. There are some others
around the country you can point to like that, and we want to make sure we do not
do that. We need to make sure we continue to grow and get better, rather than sit
and be comfortable.
P: Are dollars the key to all of this?
S: We need to get some state dollars back, like many units on campus. When the
Fisher funds and the other enrichment funds were raised, there was a pledge that
they would not use those funds to trade off against state funds.
P: The lottery. [laughter]
S: Just like the lottery. That is exactly right. What has happened is that we have been
penalized a little bit more. The only thing that has allowed us to keep any degree
of national excellence has been the outside funding, particularly the Fisher funds.
We cannot do that forever. We have to get a better funding base back, and we have
to get some better physical facilities. We are still a little fragile in the sense that we
are still kind of the new kid on the block, but I think our reputation has been there
long enough now and is solid enough that we are reasonably safe.
P: Do you see a bright future for the Ph.D. program?
S: Yes, and like I said, it is strong now, and our good people in the program can go
about any place they want to. The market has tightened up, like it has probably in
other fields as well. As a matter of fact, there has been a freeze, of course, on hiring
in many places over the last year or two, so the market has not been great. But the
Ph.D. program is about where it needs to be.
P: John, what have we not talked about that we need to get on the record?
S: Well, I think we have covered most of the issues. There may be things that we think
about as we think back over what we have talked about, but I think we have covered
most of it.
We will have more competition. For example, in 1974 when I came down here,
virtually all of the key people in the state in accounting were University of Florida
graduates. Now, of course, it is much more splintered, much more diverse. Some
of that has changed over time [so] that we need to work harder to maintain our
P: Among the other state schools, is there a program other the one at FSU that
competes with Florida?
S: We really think our main competition is outside of the state, more like an Illinois or
a Texas. Our peer schools would not include Florida State. But still, in terms of
hiring graduates to go into accounting within the state, Florida State would be the
P: Are there any private schools with strong programs?
S: Not in the state. The small [schools, like] Stetson and one or two of the others, have
very good but very small programs. Now, South Florida has a pretty big program.
P: What about Miami?
S: FIU probably would be next. Central Florida is pretty big, also. They are good
P: Of course, Central Florida had one of your graduates as its first president, Charlie
S: That could be. I did not actually know that.
P: I do not know whether that was good or bad, but anyway, that is what happened.
S: The competition in the state is a little stronger than it used to be. It is interesting
that when we became a school almost everybody in the state except Florida State
also became a school, and they still look to us to see what we are doing to a large
P: FSU has what? A department?
S: A department. They never did [form a school] for a number of reasons. Again, one
of the reasons was the dean. The dean up there was not supportive of it. Also, the
faculty were not as unified in wanting to do it as we were. And they did not have
the alumni base, either, to do it. They are getting more of an alumni base now, over
P: Of course, that is a great strength of Florida, its alumni base.
S: [When] people ask, "Why did this work at Florida and not work in other places?", I
have often said, "There is no single reason. There is a combination of reasons. But
one of the reasons here is we had an extremely strong alumni base."
P: You had Al Warrington.
S: And we had some other very strong key individuals. But beyond that obvious fact
were the numbers. See, Florida State did not have an accounting program until
probably into the 1950s, so in 1974 most of the leading graduates in the state and
leading practitioners in the state were University of Florida graduates.
P: John, before you get away this afternoon and while the tape recorder is still on, I
want you to suggest to me other people to be interviewed. I have already written to
Al this last week and to Bob Lanzillotti, and obviously Doug Snowball's turn will
come. Who else would you suggest? How about Willard Stone [professor emeritus
of accounting]? He was over in education.
S: I am not sure how much help Willard would be because he was not that much
involved in creating the school. Willard had built a strong department and was
department chairman for thirteen years and certainly could tell you what happened
P: Setting the stage?
S: Yes. And again, Florida had a reasonably strong basis to start from, as I have
indicated, because they were ranked twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth before any of
us ever got here. Willard was chairman for something like thirteen years. Willard
was very supportive and very helpful, as were all the senior faculty, but they did not
play a key role. They basically took the notion: "We have done our thing. Now it
is time for something new to happen."
P: "For you young kids."
S: "We will let you do it." And they were great. That is another thing some programs
ran into is the older, senior faculty did not want to change. That is something we
have not talked about that probably should be mentioned, that Willard first and
foremost, but also the other senior faculty that were here--Larry Benninger, who is
now deceased; Dee Ray; [--were all very supportive]. Those three in particular were
the senior faculty. There were one or two others, but they were particularly the
senior faculty, and they basically said: "Do what you need to do," and were very
supportive. So in that sense Willard has not been involved very significantly in the
creation of the school.
P: How about Keith Austin?
S: Keith was involved for a time period. I think that he would be on the margin in
terms of talking to. He would be a possibility. Keith's attention in more recent years
[has been directed toward the law school]. He and Bob Lanzillotti had kind of a
falling out based on this same issue, of the building of the building itself, and Keith
has kind of turned his attention more to the law school. But Keith is here in town
and certainly would be worth talking to.
P: I know Keith.
S: Keith has not been involved with us much after that year that he chaired. He did
chair the steering committee one time while I was still in office, about the time we
were working out the hassles over the building. Keith has not been that active with
us since then, but he would be worth talking to.
P: Are there others within the college?
S: No, I do not think so. You could get the college's perspective a little bit by talking
with [C.] Arnold Matthews [professor emeritus of accounting]. I have not seen
Arnold for a long time.
P: Arnold is not well at all.
S: I thought that might be the case, but I did not know how bad he was.
P: He is not in good shape.
S: Arnold is a terrifically nice fellow. Arnold and I got a little bit at cross purposes just
because of these definitional things, because he was associate dean for Bob. But
Arnold and I personally never had any problems. He could certainly give you a
perspective of the school, but if he is not well enough to talk, I do not think there
is anybody else.
P: I will discuss with Rita and see whether [he would be up to an interview].
S: Arnold is a wonderful guy. It would be interesting to see his perceptions from that
I do not think there is anybody else. There are some people who were department
chairmen when this happened. Joel Cohen. If you really want a different
perspective, Joel Cohen might be an interesting fellow to talk to. Joel and I came
down at the same time. He built [the Department of] Marketing and did a great job
and is sort of now around as a senior person who built marketing. He is not
currently in administration.
P: He succeeded [James D.] Butterworth, I think.
S: That is right. Again, that is a big turnaround. Joel also had a falling out with Bob.
Almost all of us that were strong individuals did at some point.
P: What else is new? [laughter]
S: But Joel's perspective would be different. He could give you the college perspective.
Arnold's would be broader if he could do it, but Joel would have an interesting
perspective on this school and might be worth a short interview.
P: I will have to talk to Rita and see. How about [Bob] Ellison? Is he available?
S: Bob would probably be available.
P: He is way down in Fort Myers.
S: No, he is down in Miami. I think Bob would be available and probably would make
the trip up. Bob chaired [the steering committee] the year we had, as I mentioned,
the regents celebration in Tampa, and Bob was very much involved. I think he
would be worth talking to. After Al, Bob would probably be second or third on the
Now, another person that is here in town you could talk to is Doug Thompson.
P: Yes, I have him down here, and I do want to talk to him.
S: Fred Edenfield was involved. I am not sure if Fred could tell you a lot more than
Al, Bob, and Doug could, if you talked to those three.
P: Jay Skelton?
S: Jay's perspective might be interesting because he was the only non-graduate of the
University of Florida that was very much involved. He is no longer with the firm; he
left the firm. He handles the personal investments of the Davis family in
P: He is in Jacksonville?
S: Yes, [he is], so he is not far away. Jay was also pretty close to Bob. Jay was a pretty
P: I like it when you tell me they are not very far away.
S: Jay was a pretty good buffer in terms of some of the issues between Bob and me.
He was really close to both of us. Jay would be a possibility. Again, once you get
past Al, the drop-off is going to be significant. And then people like Bob Ellison, Jay
Skelton, Fred Edenfield, and Doug Thompson will be able to fill in some details, but
the marginal information will be a lot less to talk about.
P: What about members of the accounting faculty?
S: Well, you have to talk to Doug Snowball, of course.
P: I am going to talk to him. You are my lead-off person.
S: A person you might want to touch base with is Hadley Schaefer, who was the director
right after me and was the director at the time of the review, when they settled our
P: Where is he?
S: He is here.
P: He is on the faculty?
S: He is on the faculty.
S: I think the other person who would know the most about [the Fisher School of
Accounting] and has been here the whole time and was my first associate director
when we organized the school who could also give you a good perspective from the
faculty point of view would be a fellow by the name of Chuck McDonald.
P: Charles McDonald.
P: He is still here?
S: He is still here.
P: What was his role?
S: He was one of the strong faculty participants and was the first associate director.
When we became a school and needed an associate director (because we took over
increasing functions), he was the person I asked to be the associate director. I think
he would give a long-term faculty perspective.
P: That ought to keep me busy tomorrow. [laughter]
S: I think it is like anything else. There are a lot of people that made this thing
happen. There are a lot of people you could talk to, but you obviously have to draw
the line somewhere.
P: Well, I appreciate your cooperation and help and support and willingness to come
over here and sit down and waste a whole afternoon talking to me. It has been a
great experience for me.
S: Well, I appreciate the opportunity. It definitely has not been wasted, and I have
enjoyed it. As I said, it [developing a school of accounting] has been one of the
experiences that not everybody has the opportunity to enjoy.
P: I hope it recalls some happy memories for you.
S: It does.