“I feel lucky to have a career I love and to have such bright and hard-working students,” said Dr. Bill Harden, Associate Professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance at the Bryan School of Business and Economics. Little did he know when he arrived in Greensboro 21 years ago as a new professor, that this would become home.
His initial interest in getting a degree in tax unfolded while at North Georgia College, where his professors, and the atmosphere of teaching and research, inspired him enough to pursue his Master of Taxation at Georgia State University in Atlanta. After working as a tax accountant in the Dallas office of Ernst & Young and having the opportunity to provide in-firm training there, he experienced the joy of teaching. This led him to the University of Kentucky where he received his Ph.D. in Accounting.
Looking for an academic position in a venue closer to his home base in Georgia, Harden also sought a university that balanced teaching and research. The Bryan School at UNC Greensboro fit the bill. “Even with the increased focus on research, the Department has never backed away from its commitment to exceptionally high teaching standards. We are about teaching plus research,” he said. “This is a an attractive place where one can stay intellectually active and also teach. The local natural beauty and recreational resources are an added benefit.”
Harden also conducts continuing education classes for CPAs and serves as a supporting role with other professionals. “This keeps me fresh and in touch with interesting stories that I can share with my students.”
Having authored more than 40 publications in tax and financial planning journals he finds that his teaching, research, and consulting are mutually beneficial and all of his work keeps him current.
The North Carolina Association of CPAs (NCACPA) recognized him for his outstanding contributions to the field including the R. Donald Farmer Award, and the five Outstanding Leader or 5.0 Awards. For five years, he’s received the American Institute of CPAs’ Outstanding Discussion Leader Award, and twice he received the Bryan School Tenured Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.
Accounting has a perception problem, in Harden’s view. “It’s different than most people think. People think accountants are all introverts, working in isolation in the realm of math. But in reality, we must have excellent communication skills, as we are constantly advising our clients. We don’t do advanced mathematics. Of course, you’ve got to learn the basics, which until you are a senior or a grad student can seem tedious. But like many subjects, once you master the language, you get to take on the interesting things that you can to do for a living.”
Harden enjoys time with his family, hiking and other outdoor activities. He and one of his sons take Tae Kwan Do together. Most people don’t know that Bill was Airborne qualified and flew a helicopter while serving in the U.S. Army.