Standing in a Hall of Fame
You can be a master, don’t wait for luck. Dedicate yourself and you can find yourself…standing in a hall of fame. – “Hall of Fame” lyrics by The Script
There’s one for baseball, rock and roll, fresh water fishing and RVs; there’s even a song about standing in a “Hall of Fame,” by the Irish pop culture band, The Script. And, now there is one at Stetson for accounting–the Stetson University Accounting Hall of Fame.
Created by Stetson’s own accounting faculty in the School of Business Administration, with input from the Accounting Board of Advisors, the Stetson University Accounting Hall of Fame was established “to honor those retired accounting alumni, faculty, and benefactors who have demonstrated significant career accomplishments, contributions to the Stetson accounting program and/or contributions to the accounting profession,” as stated in the program for this special event. Nine individuals were selected and honored at the inaugural induction ceremony, held earlier this month.
“Personally, I’ve learned a lot from accounting teachers,” said Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D. in her remarks at the special occasion. “All accountants are teachers. I worked in an accounting office and appreciated that as I began my master’s program and actually knew what I was doing,” Libby chuckled. “And Nestor de Armas [one of the evening’s honorees], who is an accountant, hired me here at Stetson University. So, you have my personal thanks for what you do for students and for this school.”
M.E. Rinker, Sr. was honored posthumously not only for his service as a 19 year Stetson trustee for whom the accounting department was renamed in 1989—the M.E. Rinker, Sr. Institute of Tax and Accountancy, but also for his belief in the “transformative power of education,” said Linda Davis, special advisor to the President for Philanthropy, who spoke of him to those in attendance. “He was a true rags-to-riches story,” said Davis. “He borrowed $1,000, and grew a one-man, one-truck business into a multi-million dollar industry, later selling it to an Australian company. A true entrepreneur,” she said. Rinker then established the Rinker Foundation and his contributions created an endowment whose earnings currently fund the operations and programs of Stetson’s Institute of Tax and Accountancy.
At the time the Rinker Institute was established, another honoree was chairing the department. Joseph J. (“JJ”) Master, a legendary Stetson accounting professor who was honored posthumously, would often say to his students, “‘Comrades, it’s time to take out a pencil and paper and take a quiz,’ as he was known to invoke a bit of effective fear in the classroom,” said Judson Stryker, D.B.A., professor of accounting. Stryker presented the plaque to Master’s widow, Joan Master, and her son, Scott, who emotionally added, “Joe was as passionate at home as you saw him here. He would be so proud.”
Honorees of Stetson’s new Accounting Hall of Fame must be a Stetson alumnus/a, faculty member or someone who has made a significant contribution—financial or through life service—to Stetson University’s Accounting Department .
Michael Bitter, Ph.D., chair, and professor of accounting, who hosted the event, presented a posthumous induction to David M. Beights, Ph.D., former department chair who is generally considered the “father of the accounting program at Stetson,” said Bitter.
Director of Athletics Jeff Altier, presented a plaque to Stetson Trustee Joe Cooper ’79 (accounting), M.B.A. ’82, retired president, Big Lots Canada and executive vice president of Big Lots, Inc. It honors Cooper’s life of professional achievements and his service and continual contributions to Stetson University including the Cooper Beach Volleyball Courts.
Current David M. Beights Professor of Accounting Vincent Brenner, Ph.D. presented the honor to his former faculty colleague at Virginia Tech and “good friend for half a century,” Paul Dascher, Ph.D. Dascher served as Dean of Stetson’s School of Business Administration from 1993 to 2004, and continued teaching as Senior Professor of Accounting until 2012. During his time as dean, Dascher’s contributions led to AACSB accreditation of the School, a distinguished achievement and significant accreditation for business schools of high quality that produce graduates who are highly skilled and more desirable to employers.
“Stetson is one of only 182 schools in the world with both business and accounting accreditation,” noted Bitter. Fewer than five percent of the schools worldwide granting business degrees have earned the rigorous AACSB accreditation.
Former Stetson Trustee (2001-2011), board chair from 2006-2010 and current Trustee Emeritus, Nestor de Armas ’73, was inducted into Stetson’s Accounting Hall of Fame for his “actionable passion for all things Stetson and his service past and present to the university,” Stryker said in presenting the honor to de Armas. De Armas is a former senior executive of a leading banking software company for which he served as managing director of the company’s international business unit.
Dascher who hired Stetson’s very first Beights Endowed Professor of Accounting, William Ferrara, Ph.D., presented Ferrara’s posthumous induction into the Accounting Hall of Fame to Ferrara’s widow, Carol. Dascher recognized Ferrara’s life of service and his significance in action toward all students and to Stetson and accounting academia.
George Shierling, successful local C.P.A., was presented his honor by his colleague Russ Kelton ’99, M.B.A. ’00, C.P.A. Shierling was also recognized by Bitter to have been selected “for his unwavering devotion to all things Stetson from its accounting program to scholarships to students.”
Bitter also had the privilege of presenting membership into the Accounting Hall of Fame to Pat Knipe, U.S. Army veteran, former managing partner of the Orlando office of Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and a former student of Beights. Knipe “retired from PWC and came back to teach accounting at Stetson. His significant leadership and service in the greater Orlando community is quite extensive,” said Bitter.
“Tonight is about recognition of the recipients’ personal service,” said Neal Mero, Ph.D., current dean of Stetson’s School of Business Administration. “The connection with the accounting industry makes Stetson’s accounting program one of the best in the country, thanks to you all.”
By Caroline Skinner
Photos by Lisa Yetter