Faculty couple co-chairs annual meeting
Two accountancy faculty members at The University of Mississippi saw the fruits of their labor after months of preparation as program co-chairs for the American Accounting Association’s annual meeting, held Aug. 3-6 in Anaheim, Calif.
Dale and Tonya Flesher, husband and wife and longtime faculty members in the Patterson School of Accountancy, juggled more than 1,400 professional papers and panel-session proposals submitted for possible presentation at the meeting of more than 3,000 accounting professionals from around the world. It was the largest attendance in the organization’s 92-year history.
The association’s president, Gary Previts, E. Mandell de Windt Professor of Leadership and Enterprise Development at Case Western Reserve University, praised the Fleshers for their work.
“Dale and Tonya Flesher have orchestrated and coordinated the single most important annual event in terms of our discipline,” Previts said. “They have had to interact with scores of people from around the world, screen hundreds of submissions and plan a program on numerous topics that will appeal to different nationalities. It’s a terrible responsibility, and they have done a magnificent job.”
In all, the program featured 900 presentations, many of which had two or three co-authors. Besides plenary sessions for the entire assemblage, there were several miniplenary sessions for groups of about 1,000. The remainder of the program consisted of 90-minute sessions covering nearly 50 topics during the four days.
An undertaking of this magnitude by the two faculty members provides a great opportunity for UM’s accountancy school, said Dean Mark Wilder.
“Having two of our faculty members co-chairing the AAA annual conference further enhances the Patterson School of Accountancy’s position as a leading research group. The visibility this provides is tremendous.”
Putting together a successful conference for accountants is a difficult task because of the broad range of topics in the field. Additionally, about 60 percent of the submissions came from accountants and accounting professors outside the United States, said Tonya Flesher, Authur Andersen Professor of Accountancy.
“Some people specialize in taxation while others conduct audits and prepare financial reports, and still others emphasize the managerial uses of accounting or are concerned with governmental accounting. A successful conference has to consider all of these interests. And since it is an international conference, there has to be something for the Chinese, Japanese, Scandinavians, Australians and every other nationality.”
While the work has been intense and time consuming, the rewards have been great, said Dale Flesher, associate dean, professor and Arthur Andersen Alumni Lecturer.
“Working together with the leading accountancy thinkers in the world is a joy. We have communicated with leaders of the major CPA firms, large corporations, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Government Accountability Office, various accountancy professional groups and other organizations to be sure that the most up-to-date regulations and pronouncements are incorporated into the meeting program.”
The Fleshers have been at Ole Miss for 31 years. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ball State University, and his doctorate is from the University of Cincinnati. He is president of the AAA’s Teaching and Curriculum Section, and he was named the Patterson School’s Outstanding Researcher of the Year last spring. She holds a bachelor’s from Ball State, a master’s from Appalachian State University and a doctorate from Ole Miss. Formerly dean of the School of Accountancy, she was the first woman to be appointed to a deanship at the university.