Kirk Wilcox, professor in the College of Business, is the kind of teacher students don’t forget. To ensure Wilcox’s high standards continue after his retirement, two University of Colorado Colorado Springs alums are creating an endowment in Wilcox’s name to bring another top-flight accounting professor to campus.
“I truly believe I would not have had the success I had without knowing Kirk,” said Brenda Smith, a Colorado Spring alumna and former partner of the national accounting firm of BKD CPAs and Advisors. “Kirk took the time to mentor me in class and he also encouraged me to take time to look at the clouds.”
Smith’s classmate, Mike Fryt of Memphis, a FedEx executive, joined her in the fundraising.
“Kirk was a demanding teacher, but he was fair,” Fryt said. “I respected that about him and learned a lot about life from him.”
“Kirk has been a pillar of the College of Business,” said Dean Venkat Reddy. “We truly appreciate his former students stepping up to recognize his legacy by creating this fund that will make a difference for a long time to come.”
The college is conducting a worldwide search to fill the position for the fall semester 2012. Wilcox was honored with a reception in August. He joined the College of Business in 1972 after earning a Ph.D. at the University of Texas, Austin. He also served in the Army and practiced as a CPA.
Wilcox founded the accounting department at UCCS and hired many of the professors who have remained for decades. He also helped start the University of Colorado Executive MBA program, which is housed at the Denver campus and staffed by faculty from CU-Boulder, UCCS and CU Denver. Wilcox taught the first Executive MBA class and continues to teach part time. He made nine trips to Europe and China with students as part of the curriculum.
Besides his work in the U.S., Wilcox has helped Russia, Cambodia and Vietnam transition to free market economies. He taught financial reporting in Russia through the United States Agency for International Development.
In Cambodia, he worked with the Ministry of Economy and Finance to help set up an accounting profession. Wilcox taught international accounting at the Faculty of Business in Phnom Penh, and trained accountants in the National Bank of Cambodia. He also lectured on international accounting at the Bank for Agriculture for Vietnam.
He published a number of articles in academic accounting journals as well as two editions of a popular accounting textbook.
But he’s best known for his award-winning teaching.
“Dr. Wilcox helped me understand that accounting is not really about the numbers. It’s about the politics behind the numbers,” said Ed Tomme, a 2010 MBA graduate and chief technology officer, CyberSpace Operations Consulting. “I’m not sure I would have made it through the class without that key insight. He was definitely one of the best three or four professors I’ve had in my four university degree programs.”