August 28, 2012

Association honors Cheng for research, education

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng, who has devoted much of her career to government and non-profit accounting research and education, continues to influence the work of others in the field.

The Government and Nonprofit Section of the American Accounting Association honored Cheng earlier this month with the “Enduring Lifetime Contribution Award.”  The award, presented during the association’s annual convention in Washington, D.C., recognizes her “outstanding contributions to the field of government and nonprofit accounting research and education.”

Cheng, who served as president of the Government and Nonprofit Section in 2000-01, is the 15th individual -- and only woman -- to receive the award since it was created 25 years ago.

The association, founded in 1916, promotes worldwide excellence in accounting education, research and practice.  The Government and Nonprofit Section includes about 400 faculty from across the country who have research interests in government or nonprofit financial reporting and accounting.

“I was surprised and humbled,” Cheng said of the award.  “The individuals who have received this award included highly regarded faculty who mentored me and helped me in the early years of my career.  Recognition from your peers is very special.”

Cheng, who earned her MBA from the University of Rhode Island and her doctorate from Temple University, is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Government Financial Manager.  She served as a faculty member in the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for 22 years, in addition to her administrative roles, which included serving as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs for five years prior to becoming chancellor at SIU Carbondale.  She holds the rank of professor of accounting at SIU Carbondale.

Cheng is internationally known for her research and is co-author of the textbook “Advanced Accounting,” now in its 11th edition.

Suzanne Lowensohn. associate professor of accounting at Colorado State University and the immediate past president of the accounting association’s Government and Nonprofit Section, described Cheng as “one of my role models.”

“I cited her research in my 1996 disseration and was excited to meet her personally back in 1997 when I first presented my research at the American Accounting Association annual meeting,” Lowensohn said.    “She was a discussant on my paper at that meeting.  Since that time, she has always taken an interest in my career and the careers of many young governmental accounting researchers.”

Lowensohn added that “even as she moved up the academic administrative ladder, she has remained active in governmental accounting as a textbook author, researcher, and member of our section.”

Linda Parsons, associate professor of accounting in the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Accountancy, is past president of the Government and Nonprofit Section and chaired its nominating committee.  Parsons noted that Cheng has published dozens of articles and book chapters, “including a 1992 article in the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy that is still frequently cited today.”

“She served as dissertation advisor to a number of Ph.D. students and continues to mentor junior scholars through the early stages of their careers,” Parsons added.

When Cheng received the award, various section members talked about the impact of her research and her continuing involvement in the profession.

“Some colleagues were contemporaries of mine who were involved in governmental and non-profit research during my early years,” Cheng said.  “Other colleagues were younger researchers who talked about using my research in their work and how I helped launch their careers.  Some of my published papers are almost 20 years old.  I take great pride in the fact that my work is still having an impact and informing current research.”