Devin Williams

Fisher School alumnus wins award from American Accounting Association

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Fisher School of Accounting alumnus Devin Williams received the Outstanding Auditing Dissertation Award from the American Accounting Association in January.

Williams graduated from the Fisher School of Accounting Ph.D. program in 2016. He has been consistently recognized for his work in accounting education, including being named an American Accounting Association/Deloitte/J. Michael Cook Doctoral Consortium Fellow and an American Institute of CPAs Accounting Doctoral Scholar, in addition to receiving the Warrington College of Business’s Ph.D. Teaching Award in 2015 and being one of only 10 Ph.D. students across the U.S. to receive a $25,000 grant through the Deloitte Foundation Doctoral Fellowship program.

“I am grateful to the Fisher School of Accounting for its support of me acquiring the data and the additional resources to pursue a non-traditional idea and data source for my dissertation,” Williams said. “Knowing they supported me in novel research demonstrates their commitment to academia and expanding knowledge in the field of business. I am particularly grateful to Professor Robert Knechel, my dissertation chair. I also thank the members of my dissertation committee, who were instrumental in my education and training. They are Paul Madsen, Steve Asare, and Gulcan Onel.

“I am pleased that a dissertation from the University of Florida won the award. It demonstrates the high quality of an accounting education from the Fisher School of Accounting. The faculty and staff are some of the best in the world.”

Williams’ dissertation is titled “The Effect of Potential Entrants on Audit Market Competition.” It analyzes the effect of potential entrants – audit firms that have no public clients – on the quality and pricing of public-company audits using unique dataset identifying all audit firms in the U.S., he said.

“I find that public-company audit quality is increasing in the level of competition from the potential entrants most likely to enter the public-company audit market, whereas public-company audit fees are decreasing,” Williams said. “Firms registered with the PCAOB although they have no public clients represent those most likely to enter the market. The pattern of results suggests potential entrants shift incumbent auditors’ pricing and quality closer to competitive equilibrium.”

Since graduating from the Fisher School of Accounting, Williams accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Accountancy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Gies College of Business. Williams is also a licensed CPA in the state of Texas. He previously worked in Deloitte’s Dallas office as a Senior Associate, Audit from 2008-2011. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University in 2008.

The Outstanding Auditing Dissertation Award is given to the author of a dissertation judged to make the most outstanding contribution to auditing knowledge among those dissertations nominated for consideration. The assessment of what constitutes an outstanding contribution is based on the timeliness and importance of the problem addressed, creativity of the research, development of an appropriate theoretical framework, appropriateness of the research method and analysis, potential for publication in a scholarly journal, and potential for the results to have an impact on the practice of auditing.

Two other individuals from the Fisher School have received the Outstanding Auditing Dissertation Award in previous years. Then-faculty member Matthew Ege received the award in 2015 and Kevan Jansen received the award in 2001 while he was a student at UF. Fisher School faculty have also received prestigious awards from the American Accounting Association, including Dr. Robert Knechel, who was the recipient of the Outstanding Educator in Auditing Award in 2015.