Accounting Librarian Wins International Lifetime Achievement Award

The J.D. Williams Library is a vital asset to students and faculty alike at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Jack Hall.

Royce Kurtz, who has shaped the University of Mississippi‘s accounting library for the last 16 years, has been honored with an international award for his efforts. 

Kurtz, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants research and instruction librarian and associate professor, has won the Academy of Accounting Historians’ Hourglass Award for lifetime achievement. The first nonaccountant to win the honor in its more-than-40-year history, Kurtz works with UM’s Patterson School of Accountancy, the AICPA, the Academy of Accounting Historians and accountants around the country to make this collection the best in the world.

“Accounting tells the story of how wealth in America is created and dispersed, and this wealth is the wellspring of all other creative arts,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoy making available to both the community of scholars and practitioners the books, pamphlets, journals and manuscripts that tell the story of accounting profession, and I hope to continue this endeavor for years to come.”

The Hourglass Award is presented annually to “an individual who has made a demonstrable and significant contribution to knowledge through research and publication in accounting history,” according to the Academy of Accounting Historians. Kurtz will receive the award this month in San Diego. 

He has digitized more than 412,000 pages of historical accounting content and made these available on the library’s website for free use by anyone, anywhere in the world.

“Through the library’s digital initiatives, we are making this collection available to scholars and practitioners around the world,” Kurtz said. “I also wish to thank my colleagues in the library who have worked to process and make available this wealth of knowledge.”

The library’s website includes everything published by the AICPA, except material within the past 10 years, which is embargoed, everything ever published by Deloitte and its predecessor firms between 1895 and 2000, publications of the Academy of Accounting Historians, and other accounting-related publications that are out of copyright from 1923 and earlier.

Kurtz recently was praised by SEC Historical Society researcher and curator, George Fritz, for digitizing the materials of the Public Oversight Board. Kurtz, at the instigation of Fritz, was able to acquire the archived website of the defunct board, an independent body that oversaw the self-regulatory function of auditors of companies.

He not only copied that defunct website, but he improved upon it by adding many new items. 

Dale Flesher, a professor and associate dean of the Ole Miss accountancy school, was among those to nominate Kurtz. Flesher, who won the Hourglass Award in 2014, said Kurtz provides “extraordinary” service to students and faculty and brings world-class knowledge to his job. 

“Following the procurement of the AICPA collection, Dr. Kurtz’ clientele expanded to include thousands of accounting researchers throughout the world,” Flesher said. “He routinely fields anywhere from 500 to 900 phone calls and emails per month from accountants and accounting researchers throughout the world; many of those seeking help are interested in accounting history.

“Dr. Kurtz knows more about accounting history publications than any person alive.”


By Michael Newsom

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