June 30, 2014 : Imagine Your Possibilities: University of Alabama Associate Professor of Accounting Dr. Gary Taylor
- Cheri Russo
Communications and Marketing Manager
Lancaster – Dr. Gary Taylor has been teaching at the University of Alabama since 1996. But, the associate professor of Accounting said he learned how to teach in a college classroom while taking classes in the mid-1980s at Ohio University Lancaster.
“Professor Fred Herr and Dr. Ed Fitzgibbon basically taught me to think,” said Taylor. “Instead of just coming into class and regurgitating facts and regurgitating calculations, they were the first to challenge me to think about problems and think about issues in different ways. They taught me to be creative. Both of them were fantastic and gave me the skills to succeed.”
Taylor graduated from Lancaster High School in 1983. He received a Charles Kilburger Scholarship. The full-tuition scholarship required that Taylor attend Ohio University Lancaster for the first two years of his studies. The accounting major did not think he would like the regional campus, but could not have been more wrong.
“I could not have been prepared any better for the rest of my career than the work and training I got at OUL,” said Taylor. “Whether Fred Herr realized it or not, he was on the cutting edge of accounting education. Technology has eliminated the value of memorizing facts or formulas. The marketplace values a ‘figure it out’ mentality. This is what Mr. Herr was teaching through his accounting courses. I tell my students today, that the tools I learned in three quarters of Mr. Herr's accounting class allowed me to get an undergraduate degree, pass the CPA exam and work for one of the Big 8 accounting firms. What may have been more impressive was his willingness to get to know me as a person. He prepared me for transferring to Athens and what I should do to get into public accounting. In addition, he talked with me about my Type A personality and the issues that may come from that if I didn't learn to control it.”
Taylor said he also learned a lot from Fitzgibbon about how to be a professor and how to engage students in the classroom.
“Ed Fitzgibbon would walk into the room, start talking as he pulled the door shut and would continue until the end of class,” said Taylor. “It never felt like he was lecturing, but rather telling a story. He was weaving a tale about historical events, why they occurred and their implications for history. His Western Civilization courses were some of the most interesting courses I had while in school.”
Taylor finished his bachelor’s degree on the Athens Campus. After graduation, he was hired as a staff accountant at Ernst & Young in Columbus. He was later promoted to a senior accountant position. However, Taylor decided to go back to school. He got his Ph.D. in accounting from Ohio State in 1996.
Taylor is now the director of the Garner Center for Current Accounting Issues and Director of the Ph.D. Program in Accounting at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Accountancy. Dr. Taylor is a PricewaterhouseCoopers Faculty Fellow. He has been published in Journal of Accounting Research; Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance; Issues in Accounting Education; Review of Accounting Studies, and International Journal of Auditing. In 2003, Dr. Taylor was a winner of The University of Alabama Alumni Teaching Award.
After his experience at OUL, Taylor said he became an advocate for regional campuses in Alabama.
“In 2011, a tornado came through Tuscaloosa, and one of those killed was an accounting student who had come from a regional campus,” said Taylor. “We developed a day-long workshop in her honor for people who are entering the accounting program from a regional campus, and I was one of the participants in that.”
Taylor said some of his family still lives in Lancaster, and when he visits he always tries to stop by and walk around campus.
“I was thrilled with the education I got at OUL,” said Taylor. “It was the foundation for everything that followed.”
Taylor will be the featured speaker at Ohio University Lancaster | Pickerington’s annual scholarship banquet. The banquet will be held on Friday, October 24.