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Michigan Ross Recognizes Distinguished Accounting Professionals for Significant Contributions to the Industry


The Stephen M. Ross School of Business has recently announced the 2022 recipients of its Honorary Paton Fellow Award: Karen Bird and James Leisenring. Bird and Leisenring will be recognized during the Paton Fellow Induction Ceremony on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Founded in 2016, the Honorary Paton Fellow Award recognizes individuals each year who have made significant contributions to the accounting industry. A track record of community or professional service and a positive impact on Michigan Ross accounting education is common among Honorary Fellows. Honorary Fellows are recognized alongside Paton Fellows, high-achieving undergraduate juniors and seniors pursuing an accounting-related career. 

Karen Bird

Bird earned her undergraduate degree from Lake Superior State University and her MBA from Michigan Ross. Following her education, Bird combined her passion for both accounting and teaching, starting her 30-year career as a lecturer at Michigan Ross. She focused on teaching undergraduate financial and managerial accounting courses for many years, and co-authored a textbook specifically designed for Ross BBA students titled Financial Accounting. In later years, Bird served as the associate director of instructional development, a program for Michigan Ross doctoral students that provides support and resources to develop teaching and research skills. She also served on the BBA Curriculum Review Committee to help the top-ranked BBA curriculum. 

During her time at Michigan Ross, Bird had a meaningful impact on the lives of countless students, many of whom decided to pursue accounting after their experience in her courses.

James Leisenring

Leisenring earned his undergraduate degree from Albion College and his MBA from Western Michigan University. He joined the staff of the Financial Accounting Standards Board in 1982 as a director of research and technical activities. In the years following, he was appointed as a member of the FASB before being appointed as the vice chairman. He also served as the chairman of the Auditing Standards Board of the American Institute of CPAs, and was appointed a member of the International Accounting Standards Board. In 2003, he was inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame and was given AICPA’s Gold Medal Award of Distinction in 2019. 

Leisenring has profoundly impacted the lives of many students and colleagues by sharing his knowledge and passion for accounting. He is often referred to as a giant in the world of accounting, and he continues to contribute to the profession through a senior advisor role with the FASB and his extensive work on the Conceptual Framework.

About Michigan Ross

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a diverse learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today's dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business mission is to build a better world through business. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.

Michigan Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the Bachelor of Business Administration, Full-Time MBA, Part-Time MBA (Online and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Business Analytics, Master of Management, Master of Supply Chain Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management. For more information, visit