As an alumnus, an accounting professional, and a longtime A&M recruiter for his firm, Billy M. Atkinson, Jr. ’72 has a unique perspective on Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. He says he continues to be amazed at the improvements he’s seen in the school and specifically the accounting program since his years as a student. That’s why Atkinson and his wife, Donnelle, also a former student, have partnered with PricewaterhouseCoopers to create a $25,000 scholarship fund for Aggie accounting students.
“Given all that Bill has done for our accounting program over the years, I was not surprised that he decided to make this generous commitment in support of students at Texas A&M University,” said Professor and Accounting Department Head James Benjamin. “Bill is one of only a few that have done so many things for our program for so long. He has recruited hundreds of our graduates for his firm, he has contributed financially to our program every year since his graduation, and he is the longest serving member of our accounting advisory council.”
Atkinson, who has been with PwC for 37 years, spent many years as the firm’s lead recruiter on the A&M campus. He also served as a partner mentor for new Aggie professionals, helping them settle into the CPA profession and culture of the firm. He says he is proud of the network of Aggies he’s helped to build at PwC, as well as the many who moved on to other successful career opportunities. “We’ve hired many high-caliber students who have become outstanding professionals and business persons. Many of them are partners in our firm today all around the world,” he said.
Atkinson has been involved with A&M in another professional capacity, as he led the team from PwC that conducted the audit for the A&M Foundation for five years through 2006. Atkinson says he was further encouraged to give to A&M when he saw from inside the way the foundation managed funds and respected the wishes of the donors in a credible and consistent manner. Atkinson has also stayed active on campus by serving on the accounting advisory council since 1982, the president’s advisory council since 1997 and the CBA Fellows Program advisory council at its inception in the 1980’s.
Well respected in the field of accounting, Atkinson has been a leader in his profession: he was president of the Houston Chapter of CPAs, which boasts 9,000 members, served on the 33,000 member Texas Society of CPAs board of directors and executive board, was appointed by Governor George W. Bush in 1999 to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, and was appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry as chairman of that state board for the last three years of his six-year term. In 2004, he was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, which leads all 50 state boards of accountancy in regulatory matters. He is currently vice chairman of that group and will assume its chairmanship in October of this year.
During his nearly four decades at PwC, Atkinson has been a successful leader and practice partner, working in audit and risk management. He plans to retire from PwC in two years. He says as he reflects on his successful career, it motivates him to give back to the accounting department in appreciation for all that his education has done for him, his family, and the many Aggies both at PwC, and elsewhere, he’s mentored.
Atkinson knows how challenging the accounting degree program is at A&M. He hopes the scholarship he, Donnelle, and PwC are providing will add an incentive for students to choose an accounting major, or to stick with it when the course work or financial needs become difficult.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 155,000 people in 153 countries across the network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice.
“PricewaterhouseCoopers” refers to the network of member firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, each of which is a separate and independent legal entity.