PYA has pledged a $100,000 leadership gift to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business (HCB) Richard L. Townsend Chaired Professorship of Accounting endowment. According to the university’s news release, this is the first endowed chair for the college’s Department of Accounting and Information Management (AIM).
The endowment began as a grassroots fundraising campaign in 2009 when former students of Richard (Dick) L. Townsend, professor emeritus, contributed in honor of his 42-year career at the university.
PYA President and CEO Marty Brown (HCB ’85) credited Townsend for introducing him to a future career path in the field of accounting. “When I took my first accounting class from Dick Townsend, I had not yet decided what career to pursue after graduation. His ability to teach complex accounting concepts, along with a genuine compassion for his students, helped shape the direction I would take, and has no doubt set many UT accounting graduates on paths to discovery.”
As the endowment grew, so did expectations it could fund a professorship. In 2020, a new campaign requiring a minimum $2 million would upgrade the professorship to first chair. Townsend’s legacy and direct influence on former students like Brown compelled PYA to lead the fundraising efforts for the endowed chair—the highest faculty award a professor can hold. “Dick has impacted many of PYA’s partners and clients, and we regularly recruit Haslam’s AIM students to join the firm,” said Brown. “We are so proud of the AIM program and what it has become over these last decades.”
The first person to hold the new chaired professorship is Terry Neal, head of the Department of Accounting and Information Management.