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Department News

McCombs School of Business McCombs School of Business

Welcome New Faculty Members!

Andrew Matthew and Aruhn

The Department of Accounting would like to welcome its newest faculty members, Andrew Belnap, Matt Kubic, and Aruhn Venkat!

Andrew Belnap Andrew Belnap joins from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he earned his PhD. His research uses field experiments and archival data to address tax and financial accounting issues, with specific focus on disclosure, text analysis, and tax enforcement. Andrew is a researcher with the IRS Joint Statistical Research Program and has a number of joint projects on key enforcement issues such as small-business audits and the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act. Prior to academia, Andrew worked in the international tax group at Grant Thornton in New York. He has experience in a wide range of cross-border compliance, planning, and transfer pricing issues. He also speaks Mandarin and Spanish.

Matt Kubic completed his Accounting PhD from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in 2020. Prior to Duke, Matt was a 3rd year manager in PwC’s Transaction Services group, and before that did a one year rotation as a post-graduate technical assistant at the FASB.

Aruhn Venkat earned his PhD from the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. Aruhn’s research focuses on business taxation and lies at the intersection of accounting, law and economics. He uses archival empirical methods, particularly natural experiments, to examine banking and bank tax outcomes, responses to corporate taxes and tax avoidance and the interaction between law and accounting. For instance, his dissertation exploits variation in state taxation of financial institutions to explore the effects of bank taxes on the intensity and location of corporate investment. Other studies focus on employee responses to media coverage of firm taxes, the disclosure effects of bank taxation, the tax effects of whistleblower laws, corporate tax incidence and the effects of tax code complexity. Aruhn completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California, his Master’s degree in economics from the American University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. When he is not working, Aruhn enjoys watching sports well, playing sports poorly, reading and spending time with his family.

Spring 2020 BBA Faculty Honor Roll

Faculty Honor Roll 2020

Congratulations to the following members of the Department of Accounting who were elected to the Spring 2020 BBA Faculty Honor Roll. The recipients were chosen by the students of the Undergraduate Business Council (UBC) based on excellent student ratings across several dimensions of the Fall 2019 Course Instructor Survey. Our winners are:

  • Megan Allen
  • Jerry Hays
  • Donna Johnston-Blair
  • Volker Laux
  • Lillian Mills
  • Well done Megan, Jerry, Donna, Volker, and Lil!

    AICPA Recognizes 2019 Elijah Watt Sells Award Winners

    Sells Award Winners 2019

    The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) recently named the 133 recipients of the 2019 Elijah Watt Sells Award, and the Texas McCombs MPA is proud to announce that the program has twelve winners:

  • Daniel Chang (iMPA '19) who is employed with PwC in Dallas, Texas
  • Bryan Davis (tMPA '16) who employed with Verizon Communications Inc. in Lake Mary, Florida
  • James Hall (ECON-MPA '19) who is employed with Cherry Bekaert in Austin, Texas
  • Kara Killingsworth (iMPA '19) who is employed with Protiviti in Dallas, Texas
  • Jerry Lam (iMPA '19) who is employed with Deloitte in Dallas, Texas
  • Adam Landefeld (iMPA '19) who is employed with KPMG in Dallas, Texas
  • Collyn Robison (iMPA '19) who is employed with KPMG in Dallas, Texas
  • Travis Sakos (iMPA '18) who is employed with Deloitte Tax LLP in Houston, Texas
  • Kyle Schoen (iMPA '19) who is employed with EY in Austin, Texas
  • Adam Schor (iMPA '19) who is employed with PwC in Dallas, Texas
  • Wei-Ning Tsai (tMPA '19) who is employed with PwC in Taipei, Taiwan
  • Alec Weissman (iMPA '19) who is employed with EY in Dallas, Texas
  • This award recognizes those who scored a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the CPA exam, passed all four sections of the exam on their first attempt, and completed their testing in 2019. Over 75,000 individuals sat for the CPA exam in 2019.

    83% of Texas McCombs students who took the CPA exam in 2019 passed all four sections; this compares to a 54% pass rate among all over Texas colleges and universities.

    Congratulations to Daniel, Bryan, James, Kara, Jerry, Adam, Collyn, Travis, Kyle, Adam, Wei-Ning, and Alec, as well as the other 121 winners --- it's an tremendous accomplishment to receive this award!

    See the full list of winners here.

    The Elijah Watt Sells Award was established in 1923 to honor one of the country's first CPAs, Elijah Watt Sells. He was a founding partner of Haskins & Sells (a predecessor to Deloitte) and one of the first practicing CPAs in New York. He also served on the AICPA governing council and helped turn the AICPA into what it is today.

    Congratulations to Interim Dean-Designate Lillian Mills!

    Lil Mills

    Interim President Designate Jay Hartzell recently announced the appointment of Lillian Mills as the Interim Dean of the McCombs School of Business!

    Mills joined Texas McCombs in 2006, and over the past 14 years she has been a top-ranked researcher and academic citizen, a champion for education in multiple, diverse settings, a nationally renowned and award-winning educator, and a scholar with consistent dedication to instructional innovation at the university, college, and department levels.

    She shared her gratitude in accepting the appointment. “I am so honored to serve McCombs, especially at this time,” says Mills. “Our staff, faculty, and alumni hold each student’s heart, education, and careers with complete commitment, and I’m confident going forward that we’ll maintain the same dedication to our students and the university during this time of transition.”

    Mills received her PhD in accounting from the University of Michigan and her master’s and undergraduate degrees in accounting from the University of Florida. Prior to joining McCombs, Mills spent a year at the U.S. Treasury Department as the Stanley Surrey Senior Research Fellow in the Office of Tax Analysis. She was also an assistant and associate professor of accounting at the University of Arizona from 1997-2005, and practiced professionally with two national CPA firms from 1981-1989, shaping her research on earnings management.

    Throughout her academic career, her research has focused on the intersection of financial reporting and tax compliance, exploring the tension between financial reporting and tax incentives. She has co-authored and published several papers about observed behavior of firms and papers about taxation and auditing. More recently, Mills has embraced research that interests her students and junior colleagues about how analysts forecast taxes.

    Mills is also known for her passion for teaching and creating a successful learning environment, and has been recognized with dozens of teaching awards since joining the faculty. As a recent example, in 2019, she was the first to receive the McCombs Undergraduate Amplify Award, a student-managed award designed to recognize faculty who foster highly inclusive classrooms and improve learning outcomes. She was recently nominated by McCombs for UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Awards; across 10 sections of the undergraduate course on introductory taxation, her average overall instructor rating was 4.8 (5.0 in four sections), well above the average for the school and the university. In addition, she has shown an impressive ability to help students gain the knowledge required not only to succeed in her courses, but also to further their careers after graduation.

    Beyond her classroom performance, Mills has provided significant service to the department, school, and the university. From 2011-2015, she served as chair of the Accounting Department and since 2014, she has held the Beverly H. and William P. O’Hara Chair in Business, raising $500,000 to fund an initiative for under-represented minority accounting students. Further, she has brought in $1 million in MPA scholarships directed to tax scholars, and contributed toward other improvements in annual giving and scholarship endowments. She has not only secured significant funding but has championed diversity and mentored junior colleagues and doctoral students. She is an active member of both the McCombs Diversity and Inclusion Committee and our Promotion and Tenure Committee.

    Mills has served as a graduate advisor, investing in doctoral education here and nationally. She has also chaired the accounting national doctoral consortium, and served on its planning committee numerous times, where she championed the creation of a tax doctoral consortium and served as that initiative’s first chair.

    Her leadership in the classroom, the department, and throughout Texas McCombs has more than prepared her for this significant role as interim dean. Please join me in congratulating Professor Lillian Mills for her work, service, and her dedication.

    McCombs Research and Teaching Awards

    Lisa Brian Brian Award Winners

    The Department of Accounting nominated a strong slate of candidates for the McCombs Research and Teaching Awards, and we are proud to announce we brought home four awards!

    Professor Lisa Koonce won the Career Award for Outstanding Research Contributions. Associate Professor Brian White received the Research Excellence Award for Associate Professors. Distinguished Senior Lecturer Brian Lendecky won two awards! He won the Fawn and Vijay Mahajan Teaching Excellence Award for Executive Education and the Joe D. Beasley Award.

    Congratulations Lisa, Brian, and Brian!

    2020 Spring and Summer Classes Held Online

    Given the uncertainty of the spread of COVID-19, courses are currently being held online. The summer course schedule is now published, and registration for summer and fall classes will open April 27 and close May 8. These dates are a week later than previously scheduled to allow students time to meet with their advisors remotely.

    Although there’s no place like the Forty Acres, the insightful lectures and discussions that define the UT experience still take place in the virtual classroom.

    The Department of Accounting would like to reiterate President Fenves' words that we are proud of everyone who has pulled together and adapted to remote learning with energy, enthusiasm, and shared purpose. We thank you all and wish you all the best in the days ahead.

    Evan Anixter Named Accounting Excellence in Accounting Award Winner

    Evan Anixter

    Join us in congratulating this year’s Department of Accounting Excellence in Accounting award winner, Evan Anixter!

    This award is presented to a 4th year accounting student who has demonstrated excellence at all levels of their accounting coursework. The recipient of this award embodies a mastery of accounting knowledge that suggests the recipient will be a leader in a professional accounting environment.

    "I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive this award. For me, the MPA-student experience has been amazing, largely due to exceptional faculty and my awesome peers. It has been a blessing to be surrounded by such an outstanding group of people. The MPA program truly is something special," said Evan.

    Keep up the amazing work, Evan!

    PhD Student Dan Rimkus Receives Doctoral Fellowship in Accounting Grant

    Dan Rimkus

    The Deloitte Foundation awarded Dan Rimkus one of ten annual Doctoral Fellowships in Accounting. The grant supports a student's dissertation work and final year of coursework.

    Each year, universities are invited to apply for the fellowship and students are nominated by the accounting faculty from their school. A selection committee composed of four eminent accounting educators chose Dan as one of this year’s recipients.

    Join us in congratulating Dan for this honor!

    Shuping Chen and Steve Smith received the McCombs’ Amplify Inclusion Award

    Shuping Chen and Steve Smith

    Professors Shuping Chen and Steve Smith recently won the Amplify Inclusion Award from Texas McCombs. Shuping was nominated and selected by MPA students and Steve was nominated and selected by BBA students.

    These professors encourage students to bring a different perspective to the classroom, inspire classroom discussion to further our readiness for diversity in the workplace, and give equal opportunities to all students to voice their opinions. We are proud to have inspirational leaders like Shuping and Steve at Texas McCombs. Thank you for all that you do!

    Faculty Awards and Achievements

    Jeff Hales

    Professor Jeffrey Hales was recently named in Accounting Today's Top 100 Most Influential People. Jeff serves as the chair of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board- SASB, is a member of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board, and teaches full-time here at UT Austin. Congratulations, Jeff!


    Jeff Johanns

    Senior Lecturer Jeff Johanns was honored with the Outstanding Accounting Educator Award by TXCPA. This award recognizes Texas accounting educators who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and have distinguished themselves through active service to the accounting profession. Thank you for all your dedication to UT both inside and outside of the classroom, Jeff!


    Lil Mills

    Professor Lil Mills won the 2019 American Taxation Association’s Outstanding Service Award. This award recognizes an ATA committee member who has gone above and beyond for the ATA for over ten years. To be eligible, the person must have a record of distinguished service as an ATA committee member and served as a chair of at least one ATA committee. Join us in celebrating Lil and the incredible achievement!


    Lisa Koonce

    Join us in congratulating Professor Lisa Koonce who was recently appointed to the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council (FASAC). The FASAC advises the FASB on strategies, issues, projects, and other matter that affect standard setting. Keep up the great work, Lisa!

    Welcome Incoming PhD Students!

    Incoming PhD accounting students

    Welcome incoming PhD students! Our four new students come from across across the nation and globe, worked in various firms and industries, and have studied all over the world. We are looking forward to working with you here at Texas McCombs!

    From left to right: Minjae Kim, Rui Silva, Mandy Ellison, and Yiying Chen.

    Department of Accounting Sweeps 2019 PAR Rankings for 10th Year in a Row

    Number one foam finger

    Texas McCombs has taken first place for all three levels—undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral—in the 2019 Public Accounting Report’s Annual ranking. This is the 10th consecutive year for McCombs to make a clean sweep across all three levels.

    For 28 years in a row, Texas McCombs has placed first or second in the undergraduate rankings.
    McCombs has led the master's program rankings for 25 out of the past 26 years.
    Our doctoral program has taken the No.1 spot 16 times in the last 18 years.

    The PAR is billed as “the independent newsletter of the accounting profession since 1978.” For the undergraduate and graduate rankings, professors for the past 35+ years have been asked to rank programs at American colleges and universities on a 1 to 10 scale on the single question, “Which programs consistently turn out students capable of some day attaining partner status?” In the doctoral rankings, professors are asked to name the programs they most regard for turning out accounting professors.

    We are extremely excited the PAR once again recognized us for our superior faculty, students, and programs. Hook 'Em!

    Accounting Faculty Promotions

    Join us in congratulating the following faculty members as they have been recommended by President Fenves for promotion effective September 1, 2019:

    Dain Donelson promoted to Professor
    John McInnis promoted to Professor
    Brian Lendecky promoted to Distinguished Senior Lecturer
    Patrick Badolato promoted to Senior Lecturer
    Jeffrey Johanns promoted to Senior Lecturer
    Stuart Singer promoted to Senior Lecturer

    These are well-deserved promotions and we are thrilled to see our faculty recognized for their hard work.