Williard Stone is a former chairman of the UF accounting department

A legacy of helping students

Professor Williard Everard Stone (1910-2003) was appointed to the University of Florida faculty from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1960 with his eyes set on a long-term goal—turning the academic programs in accounting into some of the nation’s finest. Having served as a member of one of the best business schools in the world, Stone understood the need to attract the very best faculty and students to UF.

“Williard had a challenge, bringing in individuals from Big 10 schools and others parts of the country and world to UF,” said Gary Previts, who entered the accounting PhD program shortly after Stone arrived and today is a professor at Case Western Reserve University. “The goals he set forth and the efforts of his successors and campus colleagues can be considered a success today. At that time, UF wasn’t yet an Association of American Universities member. UF was about to take some big steps, and a part of that unique strategy was bringing faculty from other AAU schools to help develop UF in accounting and throughout.

“He was challenged because he had more ideas for opportunities than he had resources available. But he was a change agent and kept recruiting and developing the people who would continue the steps, such as establishing the School of Accounting, and gaining the support of key alumni.”

Stone also brought to campus peer academics and practitioners who were leaders in the accounting profession. He prioritized bringing in leaders of major accounting firms from around the country and faculty from top accounting programs around the world to speak to UF accounting students.

“I remember Williard wanting to have UF students exposed to a broader group of accounting professionals and have us understand textbooks and theory, but also know the profession and how it worked,” said J. Michael Cook, the former Chairman and CEO of Deloitte & Touche, LLP. “If someone was going into the public accounting profession, Williard wanted to make sure they knew what they would do in the profession.”

Stone’s achievements also extended to the history of the accounting profession. He loved the history of it and wanted to preserve as many key elements as possible. Stone played an integral role in the Accounting Archives that are still displayed today on the UF campus at Smathers Library. According to Previts, it was a project that Stone participated in without telling many people. He also contributed to the literature by editing a series of early accounting book reprints.

Elmer Beamer visited UF during Stone’s tenure. Beamer agreed to send papers highlighting his service on path breaking committees of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the American Accounting Association. Stone also was able to obtain the papers of Dr. Joseph J. Klein, an influential practitioner during the pre-World War II era and a professor in the New  York City area.

“Williard’s historical work was really important,” Previts said. “He would talk to many professionals and collect their historic papers at the archive at UF, preserving a good representation of thought leaders during an important part of US accounting’s history.”

Though he has passed away nearly two decades ago, the people Stone counseled and guided still remember fondly his impact on their lives.

“He was a fine gentleman with a very pleasant smile and didn’t intimidate anyone, even though he was the chairman,” Cook said. “His impact in my years was taking the accounting program at UF and bringing a much broader perspective to it. He transformed the school from a great, locally focused accounting department to one with a much broader image, bigger impact and a great place for the students to learn and get terrific jobs out of college.”

Previts added, “He had a very sincere interest in helping students and preparing them for the future. He had a sense of humor and was not someone who promoted himself or led an extravagant lifestyle. He and his wife Louise were excellent hosts and cared about other members of their campus family.”

Read about Williard’s wife, Louise.