Haas Accounting Professor
Accounting Prof. Alan Robert Cerf, who taught more than 13,000 students over 62 years at Berkeley Haas, died August 24 of natural causes at his home in Piedmont, Calif. He was 93.
Cerf earned his BS when Berkeley’s business school was called the College of Commerce and began his academic career at the university in 1956. His research focused mainly on taxation and auditing. Over the course of his Berkeley Haas career, he held prestigious positions and received several key honors. He served as chairman of the school’s Accounting Group from 1978 to 1982. Cerf was the first director of UC Berkeley’s San Francisco MBA Program, staffed by business school faculty, and the first director of the evening MBA. In 1984, he received the Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching and Research from the California CPA Foundation. In April 2011, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished contributions to the Haas accounting program.
A strong believer that exercise was a key to a long, healthy life, Cerf was known for assigning a student to lead his classes in a quick round of calisthenics. It was that enthusiasm, energy, and enjoyment for teaching that impressed both students and faculty.
Cerf served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he returned to Harvard, where he earned his MBA in 1947. He then worked at an accounting firm and later at his father’s haberdashery. He received his PhD in economics from Stanford University in 1952.
Cerf is survived by his wife of nearly 66 years, Lila Spitzer Cerf; sons Robert, Douglas, Jeffery, and Richard; daughter, Nancy; 11 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.