Acclaimed accounting professor Dan Collins to retire after 45 years at the UI

As a professor, researcher, and mentor at the University of Iowa, Dan Collins published numerous papers, received several awards, and touched many lives.



Ryan Hansen, News Reporter

Accounting Professor Dan Collins will retire in May after over 45 years as an instructor and mentor for undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students at the University of Iowa.

Collins, 75, served as a professor, department chair, and research chair during his time at the university. He also received several awards, including a lifetime achievement award and a distinguished Ph.D. mentoring award from the Financial Accounting and Reporting Section of the American Accounting Association.

Outside of the classroom, Collins conducts research in the financial accounting field and focuses on how accounting affects market prices, which he said has been both personally and professionally rewarding.

“I’m pretty widely published in the top journals that appear in accounting and I have had the opportunity to travel abroad to many, many countries,” Collins said. “I found that to be very rewarding, to be able to travel over the years to many destinations that I never thought I would be able to see.”

Collins grew up on a small farm in Albion, Iowa, just outside of Marshalltown, where he said he learned the value of hard work. After attending Marshalltown Community College, he transferred to the UI where he has spent nearly the entirety of his career as an educator, beginning his teaching career in 1968.

Though he has had the opportunity to leave the UI, Collins said there are a few aspects of Iowa City that were hard to leave behind.

“Iowa City is a great community to raise kids, a great family town,” Collins said. “We’ve had two girls and [there] are really great school systems, so that was a big draw. The other thing was the research atmosphere here that had been created over time. I really enjoyed working with my faculty colleagues and with the doctoral students.”

The highlights of Collins’ career, he said, are the over 20 doctoral seminars in accounting that he has taught every other year at the UI. Collins said he worked with every student in the program and had the chance to teach them a little bit about research.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of them on papers that got published in top-tier journals,” Collins said. “That’s the most rewarding part of my career: working with those doctoral students on papers and getting them published and helping to launch their own career.”

Collins said he remembers and follows the achievements of so many of the program’s graduates. He said alumni like S.P. Kothari have gone on to achieve great things.

Kothari, a professor of accounting and finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, previously served as the chief economist and division of economic and risk analysis director for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kay Hegarty, UI professor of practice in accounting and a former student of Collins, said he amazed her when she took his class in the late 1970s.

“He was handsome, he was smart, and he was classy,” Hegarty said. “He just pulled you in. He was one of my first role models of what it meant to be a professional.”

Hegarty worked at an accounting firm in Cedar Rapids after graduation. Her firm collaborated heavily with Collins, and the two stayed in touch.

Then, despite no background in education, Collins offered Hegarty the opportunity to retire from the firm and teach a course in the accounting program. She said she was shocked because she did not have a doctorate or master’s degree.

“[Collins] said, ‘Well, 35 years in public accounting sort of equals a Ph.D.,’” Hegarty said. “I was frankly intimidated about whether I was really qualified to teach these smart students.”

Hegarty said Collins has been a great mentor to both his colleagues and his students and he has been totally committed to being “a Hawkeye through-and-through” for his entire career.

“I’m just one of thousands of people whose life he has touched in one way or another,” Hegarty said. “While I’m thrilled for him, it won’t be the same without him.”

Cristi Gleason, UI professor and accounting department executive officer who has worked with Collins for 19 years, said he is a remarkable, hard-working, and kind person.

“He always goes the extra mile,” Gleason said. “He mentors with a lot of kindness and those things contribute to a lot of success in the accounting program, success in his research, and success in where our Ph.D. students end up and what their careers look like.”

Gleason said Collins has had a profound impact on the field of accounting generally and the program at the UI.

“Iowa has one of the top-ranked [accounting] Ph.D. programs in the country and that is largely because of Dan Collins,” Gleason said. “There are, around the world, professors teaching accounting who are really well trained because of Dan.”

Gleason said Collins has been accounting’s biggest fan for the last 40-plus years and he left the program with ideas and research.

“I’m delighted for him,” Gleason said. “It’s hard to imagine not having him in workshops and not having him in meetings. He has a depth of experience and a level of loyalty that I really appreciate.”

After his retirement, Collins said he is going to focus on spending time with his children, grandchildren, and his partner.

He said he is looking forward to catching his grandsons’ baseball games and continuing to travel — now for leisure rather than work — to Colorado, Florida, and Arizona.

He added that he especially wants to visit national parks across the U.S.

“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Collins said. “I’ve put in a long time here at Iowa and I think I have contributed to make the department better. I think it’s time for me to enjoy life, do a bit more traveling, and spend a little bit more time with my grandkids.”