Faculty Spotlight: Gary Previts, Accounting
Weatherheadlines sat down with Gary Previts, Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Integrated Programs and Professor of Accounting, to talk about his numerous awards and accolades, research interests, and being a Cleveland native.
Q: What is your current position at Weatherhead? Did you have any previous positions here?
I was appointed Professor of Accountancy in 1979. I served as chair of the Department of Accountancy (1983-1989), Director of the Master of Accountancy program (1980-1995) and I am currently Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Integrated Study Programs at Weatherhead and have served in that role since l994.
Q: What about life before Weatherhead?
I received my undergraduate degree from John Carroll University, which was followed by major firm public accounting experience. I then went on for my Master’s degree at The Ohio State University. I was an officer in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Southeast Asia, during the Vietnam War. I then received my doctorate from the University of Florida.
Q: You have been named to the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting” for the last four years and were recently elected the 93rd President of the American Accounting Association (AAA), among other accolades. What do these awards and distinctions mean to you both professionally and personally?
The Accounting Today Top 100 recognitions represent a type of validation that there is impact in the work that one does in the national and international practice community. The nomination to office in the AAA is a comparable validation as to the impact among academic accountants. All of these notices assist in providing recognition for Weatherhead and in making the classroom and research efforts here appreciated and perhaps perceived as having value.
Q: As Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Integrated Study Programs at Weatherhead, do you only teach undergraduates?
I teach undergraduate and graduate students and I’m actively engaged with doctoral students as well.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your research interests.
The research questions which are of interest to me relate to the development of accounting thought and institutions and also to the regulation of accounting disclosures and the profession. In the area of development of thought I have worked with co-authors in writing several refereed published papers, books and monographs which investigate the corporate origins of contemporary accounting practices. In the area of regulation I have published papers which evaluate and address contributions of principal accounting policy setters at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission since the formation of that agency during the New Deal Era of the 1930s.
Q: Besides teaching and research, what other professional activities are you involved with?
I currently serve as editor of Research in Accounting Regulation published by Elsevier – we are just completing Volume 19. In the past I have edited The Accounting Historians Journal, which is now in Volume 34. In addition to holding numerous positions in professional organizations, I have also been an advisor to corporations and major accounting firms, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and I currently work with the Comptroller General of the United States in matters relating to Federal Government Accounting Standards and challenges involving ‘accountability’ by Federal Agencies.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
My family is my full-time hobby when I am not at work. My wife, Fran, and I have four adult children and five grandchildren. We look for opportunities to travel together when the circumstances permit—which is never as often as we might like.
Q: What is the best book you have recently read or are reading?
John Steele Gordon’s book An Empire of Wealth recently got my attention and I read it in very short order. But when it comes to fiction, I like reading Louis L’Amour’s books, for example, The Rider of Lost Creek or The Tall Stranger.
Q: What is a surprising fact about you that you would like to share with the Weatherhead community?
I’m a native of Cleveland, born and raised here. We’ve lived in other States and regions but have found Cleveland to be a good place to live and to build a professional career—some might find that ‘surprising’.