Haas Recognizes Two Accounting Experts at Financial Reporting Conference

Donald Kirk, former chair of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, and Haas School Professor Emeritus George Staubus were honored at the Haas School’s 20th Annual Conference on Financial Reporting Nov. 6 in San Francisco.

Kirk was awarded the 2009 Berkeley Award for Distinguished Contributions to Financial Reporting. This award was established in 2004 to recognize courage, leadership, or other meritorious performance in the interest of providing financial information useful to stockholders and creditors in making investment decisions.

Kirk, who was unable to attend the conference, said, "I am indeed honored to receive the Berkeley Award and join the company of the distinguished prior recipients." He joins the ranks of previous honorees including Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board; Warren Buffet, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway; John C. Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group; and Walter Schuetze, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In presenting the award, the Haas School recognized Kirk's body of work in the financial reporting field and particularly his involvement in developing the conceptual framework for financial reporting. That framework serves as a guide to standard setters as they establish the principles and concepts that underpin financial accounting and reporting standards. "Donald Kirk is commended for leading the conceptual framework development effort in the face of determined opposition," says Maria Nondorf, faculty director of the Haas School's Center for Financial Reporting and Management, which organizes the conference.

Kirk graduated from Yale in 1959 and began his career with Price Waterhouse, becoming partner after eight years. When the Financial Accounting Standards Board was established in 1973, he was appointed one of its first seven members and became its second chairman in 1978, serving until 1987. From 1987 to 1995 he was a professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Business and from 1995 to 2000 was an executive-in-residence at the school.

Staubus, the Michael Chetkovich Professor Emeritus of Accounting, was honored at the conference with an exclusive Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Accounting Program at the Haas School.

“It’s really a special award for Professor Staubus. He’s been a prominent member of the accounting faculty here at Haas, and he’s still very active in the accounting program,” says Nondorf. “The basis of a lot of his academic work was the conceptual framework for financial reporting. Since that’s being revisited by standard setters, we thought that the timing was right to recognize his work in that area. As Donald Kirk is also being appreciated primarily for his work on the conceptual framework, Professor Staubus's award serves as a complementary acknowledgment.”

Staubus joined the faculty at UC Berkeley in 1952 and retired in 1992. He is best known for developing the decision-usefulness theory of accounting, which was initially rejected in the 1950s, but later embraced in the 1960s and officially endorsed by the standard-setting community in the 1970s. He went on to develop activity-based costing, which helped managers understand the cost of doing things by treating activities — not just products — as cost objects.

In addition to these and other lines of research, Staubus taught undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students at UC Berkeley.