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Laying the Foundation for Actual Business Life: Deloitte, Accounting and Education

Deloitte leaders and professionals have always been passionate about education, from founding, leading and teaching at business schools, to promoting high standards for professional services to assisting schools and universities as they navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

From improving college completion rates among lower-income students to helping schools harness the opportunities emerging in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Deloitte is helping to reinvent public education and reinvigorate higher education. It’s an organisational commitment and tradition more than 100 years strong.

Three months after his untimely death at the age of 50, a “little book” by Haskins & Sells co-founder Charles Waldo Haskins, dedicated to his daughter Ruth, was published. How to Keep Household Accounts: A Manual of Family Finance sought to improve the “present unsatisfactory condition of instruction in domestic accountancy,” advising on everything from how to endorse a check to how to build a savings account.

“It is simple and elementary, and is properly introductory, in an educational sense, to capitalistic and commercial account and to all the higher developments of scientific accountancy,” Haskins wrote. A parent “may lead a son or daughter through all the experiences of an industrious and economical young man or woman who, from a wage-earner, becomes an investor and a leader of commerce and industry; and thus, this domestic education will lay the foundation for actual business life.”

The book was an unintended capstone on a life dedicated in many ways to education. Haskins was committed to raising the standards of the accounting profession and was a co-founder of New York University’s School of Commerce, Accounting and Finance, now the Stern School of Business. The school had the first accounting program in the United States, and Haskins served as its first dean.

Throughout its history, Deloitte has drawn from and contributed to the accounting academy: Several Haskins & Sells staffers followed in his footsteps at NYU. Jennie Palen, the first woman principal at Haskins & Sells, taught at Baruch College. Touche, Niven, Bailey & Smart recruited partner Donald Cramer from the accounting faculty at the University of Wisconsin, and Touche Ross’s Lawrence Scully helped develop the pioneering fifth-year accounting program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Later, Touche Ross managing partner Russell Palmer went on to serve as dean of the famed school. Deloitte, Plender, Griffiths & Co. partner Guy Densem taught at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales’ summer schools in Oxford, while two founders of Deloitte India predecessor firms, S.B. Billimoria and C.K. Chokshi, were also educators as well as accountants, with the former founding his own school. Deloitte also played a major role in establishing professional education in southern Africa: Future partner Jeff van Rooyen co-founded an accounting school in South Africa in 1982, and Deloitte Africa and other major firms established the first accounting school in Malawi. And in 2005, Vassi Naidoo, former managing partner of Deloitte South Africa, was named a professor of accounting and auditing at the University of Johannesburg.

Deloitte Haskins & Sells began sponsoring the American Accounting Association Doctoral Consortium, supporting accounting doctoral students, in 1971. Thirty years later, the consortium was named for Deloitte managing partner J. Michael Cook. And in 1966, Touche Ross began sponsoring what became the Trueblood Seminars for accounting professors, named for former chairman Robert Trueblood.

The grave and urgent necessity for a carefully-educated body of public accountants has been demonstrated with much force in recent years, and this necessity is particularly emphasised in view of the fast-increasing number of public and semi-public corporations in which vast amounts of individual capital are invested.

- Haskins & Sells co-founder Charles Waldo Haskins, 1899