2004 Distinguished Faculty Service Award

Congratulations to Our 2004 Recipient
William H. Beaver
The Joan E. Horngren Professor of Accounting, Emeritus

Excerpts and Highlights from Nominations

On Teaching

He could take a paper that would have put me to sleep before and make it into a page-turning bedtime story.

He is always willing to listen to student’s comments, ideas and worries with true interest and respect, and if he ever criticizes a comment or an idea, he does it in a constructive way. His approach allows students to develop a critical point of view and to learn how to value a piece of research. He not only teaches well the content of the course but lso teaches how to be a researcher.

He is a dynamic and powerful communicator who possesses the gift of being able to make complex subjects understandable. He is also a humble and approachable person who loves to share his extensive knowledge with his students.

His insight and intuition about the different topics is unmatched. The three and half hours a week I spend in his seminar are the times when I learn the most.

I walked into Professor Beaver’s seminar feeling unmotivated and drained, and very close to quitting. During that first class, Professor Beaver gave such an inspiring lecture on the history and future of accounting research that I left the classroom feeling encouraged and excited to do research.

On Advising and Research

During my transition from coursework to research, which as all students would agree is a particularly frustrating period, I have received significant encouragement and guidance from Bill.

When I had trouble collecting certain data items, he provided me with contacts in the industry that could help me with collecting such data, and took me to a meeting with them to discuss my data needs.

I decided I would reprioritize what I wanted to include in my dissertation. Bill suggested that I make what I had as priority 3 the number 1 priority. This turned out to be a very fruitful research area. If left to my own devices I never would have started that line of research.

Although not one of my official advisors, he helped me to understand the large overlap between accounting and finance research. Later, I met with him to discuss my job market paper. Bill always seemed to make himself available and always gave me his complete attention when I met with him.

I have spent more time in Professor Beaver’s office than with all my other professors’ offices combined, and have always left his office thinking to myself how lucky I was to be at Stanford. The more I get to know him, the more I long for professors like Professor Beaver, who truly epitomize what it is to be an outstanding professor.


Academia is filled with very large egos — but Bill Beaver is not among them. Although his accomplishments confirm his place among the elite of academia, Bill Beaver still makes his students feel comfortable.

If I can accomplish as an academic, as well as a teacher, one tenth what he had accomplished through his academic career, I would die as the happiest person on earth.

The accounting department at Stanford is ranked as the best in the world mainly because of Bill, who is a superb role model for academicians. His eager cultivation of the next generation in financial research has created a cadre of young academics who are now his colleagues at Stanford and elsewhere.

He is always happy to see students and thrives on the interaction. He is the only person I know who reads each and every accounting paper that comes through Stanford and always provides extremely valuable feedback — especially to students.

Bill Beaver is a rarity in that he is such a wonderful amalgamation of all the qualities that make a great professor. In fact, he is a perfect model of the professor that I hope to one day become.

Despite the fact that he is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant and influential academics in his field, I often forget how much of a celebrity he is when I talk to him — he is so unpretentious and so approachable that it is easy to overlook how silly I must sound to someone who had dozens of publications in top journals before I even learned to walk.