Outstanding Accounting Educator Award Ceremony
August 15, 2002 (as updated with error corrections on March 18, 2003)
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
The Secrets to Discovering Gold Along My Yellow Brick Road
Thank you Tom for your generous remarks. They meant more to me since we go back a long way together in what later became known as the Silicon Valley. I also want to thank Don Edwards, Denny Beresford, and Ed Arrington for their efforts on my behalf. They're long-time loyal friends.
I must acknowledge my closest circle of friends who took the time and trouble to be here just for this ceremony. Down in front, we have:
My wife and closest friend --- Erika Jensen ("loving her's the easiest thing I'll ever do again" as it says in my favorite song)
Debbie Bowling (my secretary)
Dr. and Mrs. Wolff
Dr. and Mrs. Digiovanni
Birdie Lea Corcoran
Don and Ladonna Jenson
Doug, Nancy, Amy, Andrea, and Alex Jenson
Erika and I have five grown children and eleven grandchildren scattered from California to Maine who could not be here today.
The Jensen/Jenson Family from farm country up in Iowa and Minnesota is a close-knit bunch of mostly cousins. One cousin in particular stands out. I was an only child, and the closest thing I ever had to a brother was Don Jenson who, along with one of his sons, Doug, drove all the way from northern Iowa just to be here today. If they didn't have to rush back to get Amy off to college, they'd have probably trekked down here on horseback.
I'd like to single out Amy Jenson to wave to the audience. Next week Amy will be leaving home for the first time in her life to attend Iowa State University. Forty four years ago, I started out in much the same way at Iowa State University. Her life is now, like mine was then, an unknown yellow brick road that will lead to serendipitous encounters with acquaintances, friends, roommates, lovers, instructors, coaches, bosses, opportunities, disappointments, and fantasies. I stress fantasies that guide us and possibly misdirect us along the road of life.
My yellow brick road eventually led to an auditing/tax job with what was then called Ernst & Ernst in the tallest building in Denver. While working over 60 hours per week during tax seasons, my fantasy was to become a ski racer. Tax season just did not coincide with the snow season in Colorado. I was too sensible to become a freeloading ski bum, so I looked for the ideal way to make a living part of the time and ski most of the time. I drooled over what seemed to be the working hours of my University of Denver professors (while I was getting an MBA), and liked the idea of receiving full pay for a 12-hour work week. W.S. Shroyer (that's Work Sheet Shroyer) gave me an opportunity to teach a couple of accounting courses and repeatedly informed me in no uncertain terms that I needed a PhD to make any headway in the academic world.
I didn't have any money, so I thank Stanford University, the Ford Foundation, and the Arthur Andersen Foundation for giving me a full ride for five years at the Stanford part of my yellow brick road. I also thank Stanford for commencing my true "liberal" education long after I was a CPA. But I never lost my fantasy. In my last year at Stanford, I mulled over job offers from small colleges in Montana and Colorado where I could live out my fantasies raising horses, mountain climbing, and skiing.
It happened, when I was writing a dissertation, that Stanford had a famous visiting professor named Herb Miller. The accounting textbook market today is fragmented, but in those days Herb Miller had a monopoly on the accounting textbook market. Herb was very wise, wealthy, dedicated, and humble. When he heard that I intended to embark on my fantasies, he drew me aside and taught me a lesson about fantasies.
Herb was a balding man and a dapper dresser who fit perfectly into the personified image of a nerdy accountant wearing a black fedora. But he revealed to me that his Walter Mitty-like fantasy was to be a racing car driver. Indeed one of his closest friends was the famous racer AJ Foyt. On occasion, Herb participated with Foyt's pit crew during major racing events. But Herb said that the thing about fantasies is that they're best when they remain fantasies. Most fantasies like car racing, skiing, and being married to Elizabeth Taylor would bore our brains to death in reality, because the most "unboring" way to live is to constantly challenge the brain and to constantly be challenged by those who think you can do more with your brain.
Herb Miller convinced me to start my academic career at a research university, so I followed him to where he was on the faculty at Michigan State University. Under the leadership of James Don Edwards, MSU was just beginning to make a name for itself by standing outside the shadow of Bill Paton located a hundred miles away in Ann Arbor. Don had assembled one of the finest bunch of accountancy doctoral students that ever existed before or since, and I was given the brain-challenge of teaching the likes of Bill Kinney, Bob May, Barry Cushing, Jim McKeown, Paul Pacter, Fred Davis, Bill Morris, Pat McKenzie, Gene Sauls, Cliff Brown, and a dozen others who went on to became famous names in accountancy academe.
Don Edwards was the best boss I've ever known. He taught me the importance of loyalty and communication. The home of Don and Clara was always open, and you were expected to drop by frequently and unexpectedly with your entire family. When you worked for Don you were part of a larger family. What makes it a family is that you help each other at all times, and not just in times of trouble. And the boss who became my best friend was Stan Devino at the University of Maine. Stan was never given enough credit for having served what I think is the longest term ever as Dean of an AACSB-accredited business program --- over 40 years. Some Deans who survive for more than 15 years think they have set some kind of record.
For a time my life was pretty well focused on publication after publication --- you did the research, wrote it up, found another topic and carried on with the research and publish syndrome. Success was defined as the number of refereed publications added to your resume. I was not a good teacher, but for the first 25 years of my academic career I had motivated graduate students who only needed to be guided, mystified with equations, and kicked in the butt. My brain was challenged, and I was repeatedly given new opportunities.
My yellow brick routing through Ames, Denver, Stanford, Michigan State University, the University of Maine, back to Palo Alto for two years in a think tank (Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Research), and Florida State University eventually led to Trinity University here in San Antonio. In most instances, such as at Trinity University, I was offered more money for less teaching and more research. I was into scholarship for the sake of scholarship and had little concern for the relevance of my research for the accounting profession or anybody outside the very narrow band of persons who read or understood my work.
My yellow brick road had a serious stumbling block in 1990. With the tremendous upsurge in its endowment, Trinity University dramatically changed its mission. It dropped 24 graduate programs and elected to pour its enormous resources into the highest-quality, full-time resident prospective students.
My Dean called me in and revealed that he worried about me. For the first time in my career I was going to have to face undergraduate students, that great unwashed mass of humanity that I'd successfully avoided my entire life. His worry was that I'd teach irrelevant academic research over their heads and scare them all away. Belatedly, I embarked on a mission, after four endowed professorships spanning over 25 years in academe, to learn how to really teach.
It so happened that the early 1990s were the best of times to commence to think about how students learn and how to make them learn better. This was the dawning of the age of education technologies and worldwide networked communications. I combined my computer skills with new learning technologies and created disastrous undergraduate electronic lectures until I discovered that learning was not about lecturing and content presentation. Learning was about getting inside the heads of your students and intense communications outside the classroom. Learning was all about giving, sharing, caring, and those things Don Edwards taught me about loyalty and communication. These were the secrets of being a great educator, and newer networking technologies were providing new channels for doing these educator things better than ever before.
About the same time, Barry Rice at Loyola College in Maryland commenced a networked discussion group for accounting educators around the world. He called it Accounting Education using Computers and Multimedia. The AECM evolved into a much broader and highly interactive channel of communication for accounting education and research topics in general. Trinity University eventually formed a new masters program in accountancy, and my graduate students even subscribe to the AECM. It's a real education for students and faculty alike. There are over 700 accounting faculty worldwide that now tune into the AECM, and many of them are active contributors to our messaging.
On repeated occasions, our current AAA President, Joel Demski, makes the case that teaching and research should be bound in the same bundle. This applies both to a scholar's own research and to the research appearing in the literature. But research appearing in the literature is always reported in a formal and condensed style and is often quite esoteric and difficult to follow. Researchers could help a great deal if they made concerted attempts to communicate more informally with educators.
What disturbs me is that many of our top researchers in accounting have not learned what I learned about interactive channels of communication. They're still caught up in the publish or perish syndrome and are not making an effort to turn to newer technological channels of communication. I identified 2,121 authors in five leading accounting research journals over the past six years. Then I filtered these for double counting of authors of more than one paper and for authors who are not listed as accounting faculty in Hasselback's Directory, such that the reduced set contains 1,427 unique accounting faculty who have been authors or co-authors on at least one paper published in five leading U.S. accounting journals. What I then found in subsequent analysis is the following:
- Out of 384 accounting faculty publishing in the Journal of Accounting Research, only 17 subscribe to the AECM.
- Out of 219 accounting faculty publishing in The Accounting Review, only 10 subscribe to the AECM.
- Out of 243 accounting faculty publishing in the Journal of Accounting and Economics, only 8 subscribe to the AECM
- Out of 475 accounting faculty publishing in Accounting Horizons, only 24 subscribe to the AECM.
- Out of 592 accounting faculty publishing in Issues in Accounting Education, only 42 subscribe to the AECM
In spite of the importance of communicating and sharing our scholarship, it appears that the overwhelming majority of top accounting researchers are neither tuning in nor reaching out to communicate their findings and methodologies with accounting educators in interactive channels of communication. Little or no effort is being made to get inside the heads of accounting educators via channels of communication other than occasional publishing of short, finalized, and esoteric research papers in top journals. Most top researchers are not using electronic networking and conference presentations to help the majority of persons teaching accounting. More importantly, they are not using their enormous skills in fielding questions and stimulating the thinking of most accounting educators on topics not contained in the printed paragraphs of their papers. Like me in my former life, they judge success in terms of the number of refereed publications, including publications in which they are only one of two, three, four, or more authors. In their scholarship, these researchers and other accounting educators are victims of university reward structures that primarily reward publishing and not other ways of communicating research and scholarship.
Most top accounting researchers avoid the great unwashed masses of accounting educators like I once avoided the great unwashed masses of undergraduate students. These researchers publish esoteric papers that typically make unrealistic assumptions about business behavior, economies, markets, attestation, and organizations Often their esoteric analyses are creative but their findings are trivial.
In short, many of our top accounting researchers are into scholarship for scholarship's sake rather than the sake of grass roots of education and practice of accountancy. They live in artificial models and spend their lives trying to solve artificial problems. In truth, most every creative idea impacting professional practice (such as activities based costing and dollar-value LIFO) had its roots in practice and education rather than published academic accounting research.
If I had remained in scholarship for scholarship's sake with the major goal of publishing esoteric papers in esoteric journals, I would not be receiving this award today! I'm receiving this award because I changed my ways later in life with an intent to freely serve my students and my fellow educators via new channels of communication like the AECM, fielding of email inquires from around the world, and through hundreds of campus presentations about realistic learning issues and realistic professional problems. I am saying this not to brag but rather to inspire other researchers to utilize newer forms of interactive and open communications in education, scholarship, and research.
I've done my best to answer thousands of questions on the AECM and made presentations at over 350 colleges in my travels around the world. And I'm being rewarded by getting back much more than I gave. I've learned much from the daily AECM communications of Dennis Beresford, Ed Scribner, Scott Bonacker, Kevin Kobelsky, David Fordham, Jagdish Gangolly, Paul Williams, Glen Gray, Roger Debreceny, Amy Dunbar, Andrew Priest, Andy Lymer, Tom Omer, Barbara Scofield, Richard Sansing, David Albrecht, Richard Campbell, Richard Newmark, Roger Collins, Tony Tinker, George Lan, Robert Holmes, and the many others on the AECM who share their concerns, time, scholarship, and friendship in a wonderful new channel of communication.
And to you Amy Jenson, as you set off down your own yellow brick road next week, I want you to always keep in mind that the road does not lead to life's realization of most of your fantasies. Life is that road and your fantasies will change along the way. The more you give freely and willingly along your journey, the more likely it will be that the yellow bricks change into pure gold. In the 1990s, my brick road commenced to change to gold as soon as I discovered that the gold is in the giving rather than the taking, and that the best scholarship is stumbling and interactive shared scholarship that sacrifices irrelevant perfection for relevant and timely imperfection.
Now is the Time
for Better Sharing
Top accounting researchers do not make an effort to use technology to communicate with accounting educators around the world. Almost none have useful Websites and less than one third of them attend the conferences of the American Accounting Association. Less than ten of the top researchers are active in sending out messages on the only active email discussion group (the AECM) for accounting educators. I hope that in the future, top accounting researchers will become more sharing of their time, their research, and their talents in helping and guiding accounting educators. All of the winning curriculum revision suggestions (by Professors Fellingham, Penman, and Kinney) announced on August 17, 2002 in Plenary Session 3 of the AAA annual meetings in San Antonio strongly advocated building more accounting research into our accounting curricula. Top accounting researchers could help by sharing their time and talent with accounting educators more involved in designing curricula and delivering the courses to the masses. My suggestions include increased efforts by top researchers to create helpful Websites, participate in AAA activities, and send messages out to the AECM electronic discussion group. Although college and university reward structures do not yet recognize the importance of daily sharing of knowledge with the outside world, the time has come for a greater spirit of sharing. I think MIT recognizes this in that school's seminal Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI).
Bob's Story About Growing Up
Short story entitled My Glimpse of Heaven: What I learned from Max and Gwen
Potential Roles of ListServs and Blogs
Getting More Than We Give --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
Bob Jensen's threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Threads.htmBob Jensen's Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Tutorials
Edutainment and Learning Games --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Edutainment
Open Sharing Courses --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI
March 24, 2010 message to the AECM
I think professors who do not open share extensively on the Web miss the boat.
Selfishness has its own punishments, and generosity has its own rewards.
Scroll most of the way down in this message for an example from XXXXX
Will Yancey was a pioneer in open sharing on the Web ---
Will made a very good living consulting and found that open sharing pays back enormously, much better in his case than any kind of paid advertising. But if you would’ve known Will you would’ve also discovered that he shared openly out of the kindness of his big heart. I doubt that he even thought about payback when he commenced to open share so generously.
I was also an early-on open sharing professor and never once did so with the thought of payback in mind. However, I am forwarding the message below to show that once of the benefits of open sharing is payback ---
Once again, however, I stress that I would open share if there was not a penny of monetary payback. I open share because it makes me feel good to make a difference in the academy of professors and students.
When you do open share technical content, potential clients find your work using Google, Bing, and other Web crawlers.
I think professors who do not open share extensively miss the boat.
Selfishness has its own punishments, and generosity has its own rewards.
My threads on this type of problem are at
My excel workbook contains an “Effective” spreadsheet at in the 133ex05a.xls file at
I also provide a 133ex05a.wmv video at
Professors Who Blog ---
How I made my money consulting ---
My Outstanding Educator Award Speech ---
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 4:26 PM
To: Jensen, Robert
Subject: Interest Rate Swap Valuation?
I found you on the internet. We are doing a Dec 31 2009 audit and our client obtained a mortgage loan in 2009, and entered into a fixed rate mortgage rate swap on the loans interest. I would like to get a fair value quote for the swap at Dec. 31,2009. Would you be available to consult with us on this valuation? Please advise interest and your fee?