Accounting professor David Guenther has been honored as the top tax educator in the nation, receiving a prestigious award from the American Taxation Association (ATA). Guenther, the Scharpf Professor of Accounting at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business, was awarded the Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Tax Educator Award at the organization’s mid-term meeting in February.
“It is difficult to imagine anyone more deserving of this honor than Dave,” said Sarah E. Nutter, Edward Maletis Dean of the Lundquist College and a professor of accounting. “As the former head of our School of Accounting for more than a decade, Dave created an environment conducive to faculty success in research and in the classroom. His leadership and vision have been the driving force in expanding the national academic reputation of the University of Oregon in the field of accounting.”
As one of the leading tax researchers in the country, Guenther's research has been published in numerous top-tier academic accounting and finance journals, and he received ATA’s annual manuscript award five times—the only person to do so.
During his thirty-year career, he has also consistently worked with PhD students and contributed to raising the reputation of the college’s PhD program by chairing the committees of many notable doctoral students.
For his part Guenther is humbled by the honor.
“Throughout my career I have had the good fortune to be associated with a wonderful group of mentors, colleagues, coauthors, and students, and I am extremely grateful for all of them," he said.
Guenther was presented with the Sommerfeld award on February 20, 2021. Several former PhD students were in attendance virtually, making the presentation even more impactful.
“Dave is the epitome of a true scholar,” said Brian Williams, PhD ’15, who is now an assistant professor at Indiana University. “Some of my fondest memories of the PhD program involve discussing research with Dave. I would often come to his office to ask a simple question and leave hours later having done a deep dive into not just my question, but also related questions and most importantly the theories underlying them. Dave has spent countless hours mentoring me in every stage of my career, and his mentorship continues to this day.”
Guenther earned his PhD at the University of Washington and joined the Lundquist College of Business in 2005. He was head of the UO School of Accounting from 2005 to 2016 and stepped back into the role for the 2019–20 academic year.
His research focuses on the effects of taxes on financing, investing, and financial reporting decisions. His recent work has studied the role of tax risk and tax uncertainty in firm’s ability to avoid taxes as well as the interaction between corporate tax planning and corporate social responsibility. He has also authored impactful works on questions related to implicit taxes, organizational form, tax motivated earnings management, tax capitalization, and more.
The award is named in honor of the late Ray Sommerfeld, a pioneer of tax education and a long-time professor of accounting at the University of Texas at Austin. Presented in cooperation with the Ernst & Young Foundation, the honor recognizes outstanding contributions by a faculty member teaching taxation at a recognized academic institution and is based on teaching, research, and service.
In making the award, the ATA Awards Committee considers contributions to curriculum or program development (including related research and/or superior teaching), participation in student activities, service to an academic institution, participation in professional activities, and activities furthering taxation as an academic field of study and research.
—Jim Engelhardt, Lundquist College Communications