Dan Collins Lifetime Achievement
Friday, August 30, 2019
By Rebekah Tilley

Surrounded by his “academic children,” Daniel W. Collins (BBA68/PhD73) accepted the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Financial Accounting and Reporting Section of the American Accounting Association in August. The award is given to research trailblazers whose work spans at least 20 years and whose cumulative academic impact is ongoing.

Many of Collins’ former doctoral students – now leaders in financial accounting research and industry – were on hand to celebrate his legacy.

“A pantheon of faculty and doctoral students have wandered through the corridors of Iowa, with Dan welcoming them and bidding them good bye. But Dan has been the high priest and guardian of the culture that has been the embodiment of his selfless service to the profession,” said S.P. Kothari (PhD86), professor of accounting and finance at MIT. Kothari is currently on leave serving as Chief Economist and Director of the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In his remarks, Kothari said economics has a simply theory of output: it is the result of the combination of labor and capital. But when Kothari reflected on his time as a PhD student in the UI Department of Accounting, he realized culture has a role to play in output as well.

“Iowa was a modest place in its financial and physical resources but, with Dan there, it had boundless energy, aspiration, team spirit, discipline, and compassion,” said Kothari. “It personified a ‘can do’ culture that was high in morale. Dan was central to creating this culture that was palpable at the time I joined the program.”

Collins’ dissertation advisor and former UI Accounting faculty member William Kinney spoke of Collins’ coming of age during a time when accounting research was entering a new frontier and Collins’ brilliance as a young academic.

“Many have said to me ‘I didn’t know you were Dan’s chair,’” says Kinney, now professor emeritus at the University of Texas. “More than once, people have asked ‘So Bill, after Dan, why didn’t you quit chairing dissertations -- while you were way ahead?’”

When honoring Collins, Edward Maydew (PhD93), professor of accounting at the University of North Carolina, focused on the legacy of Collins’ mentorship of graduate students over his 40+ year career.

“I submit that teaching PhD students is a little bit like teaching Kindergarten. How so? Both enter not knowing much, but eager to learn,” said Maydew. “Kindergarteners learn how to tie their shoes, where PhD students learn how to interpret regressions. Kindergarteners learn how to get along well with others. Doctorial students learn how to work in teams as most research is team-based.”

Maydew went on to chronical Collins’ “academic children,” the women and men he mentored and then went on to academic roles where the process was repeated for “Dan’s academic grandchildren.”

“That’s quite a legacy, Dan, and something to be proud of,” remarked Maydew. “Your teaching, ways of approaching research, and ways of thinking will persist for years to come.”

The college and department congratulate Collins on this life time achievement award and for the many thought leaders in the academic profession that he has mentored.