Written by Dana Krems | UW-Whitewater archive photos by Jonathon Kelley
The college is pleased to recognize Associate Professor Abbie Daly as the 2021 recipient of the Robert Gruber Accounting Professorship, which was established in 2016 to celebrate the spirit and impact of Robert Gruber (1955 – 2015).
The award is especially meaningful for Daly, a former student of Professor Gruber.
“There is no greater honor for me. I had Dr. Gruber in my bachelor’s and master’s programs, and he was everything a professor should be. He took the time to get to know students to help them achieve their career goals. He thought beyond the typical curriculum to what each student needed.”
Since Daly joined the college’s Department of Accounting in 2014, her goal has been to take what she learned from Professor Gruber and pay it forward. She described her approach to teaching, research and service as applied and practical.
“I like to have very practical implications for what I do. When it comes to my research, I determine what to study based on what can help practice. For example, there had been an ongoing debate whether cost or fair value should be used for accounting for certain biological assets, and my research with Dr. Hollis Skaife of the University of California, Davis, supported the revision that was made to the standards. This focus for my research also includes preparing students for practice. My case study with my former DBA student, Dr. David Gray of North Central College, prepares students to transition to the new leasing standard.”
“I feel this approach to practical application is pervasive across all that I do so that students feel the classroom is preparing them for what comes next.”
Daly’s focus is not only on preparing students for the CPA exam, but also on preparing them for their careers.
“I want students to be career-ready with all the skill sets they’ll need — not just the content knowledge but also writing, technology, and teamwork skills, as well as critical thinking and the ability to make judgments. When students leave the program, they are ready to contribute to their organizations.”
She noted that technology and analytics, in particular, are driving change in the accounting industry.
“I’ve been a champion of having students do data analysis, and there is an increasing emphasis on this in the CPA exam and the profession. In fact, there are changes coming for the licensure model and the CPA exam with the incorporation of more technology and analytics.”
These changes will impact the college, which will need to incorporate more technology and analytics in the accounting curriculum to ensure students are career-ready. Beyond just using automation and visualization tools, they must understand the outputs, perform analysis and make judgments.
The Robert Gruber Accounting Professorship provides funds which Daly will use for conference expenses as well as teaching and research support.
“This is especially important given the college’s accounting accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business — which was announced earlier this year. AACSB’s continuous improvement reporting requirements will require that our department stays on top of the game, and the funds from this Professorship will help me to accomplish this.”
Daly’s final measure of success, however, comes from the program’s alumni.
“I have heard from students now in practice, sharing they’ve applied what they learned in class to their experience with a client. It’s gratifying to know they’re applying what they learned out in the real world.”
Daly again reflected on Professor Gruber’s influence on her career and how she strives to impact students.
“Dr. Gruber was the inspiration for what I decided to do and what I continue to do every day. I like to think that he is still benefitting students because he had such a profound influence on me.”