Professor Raymond Ball


Honorary award citation

Pioneer of positive accounting theory and former Professor of Accounting and Business Finance at UQ Professor Ray Ball will be awarded an honorary doctorate. Australian-born, Ball is currently the Sidney Davidson Professor of Accounting in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, editor of the Journal of Accounting Research and a consultant to industry and government.

When he was appointed professor at UQ, he was just 26 years old and the youngest professor ever appointed in any discipline at UQ. Commonwealth Bank Professor of Banking and Finance and Director of Studies for the BEL faculty Frank Finn, who was also Ball’s first PhD graduate, said Ball had a substantial influence on his life, encouraging him to get serious as an academic in the first place. “When he supervised my PhD we were the same age,” said Professor Finn. Professor Ball changed the intensity and the emphasis of research in the department at UQ as soon as he arrived in 1971, Professor Finn said. “He introduced me to positive economics in both accounting and finance and I’ve been in that mould ever since,” he said.

The official history of the department records that Ball’s dashing style – which included wearing red jeans, a floral cowboy shirt and multi-coloured shoes to Professorial Board meetings – raised eyebrows among his peers but was welcomed by the honours students and younger staff of the early 70s. It was the substance of his theories that was to leave a lasting impression, as he changed the emphasis of research to explore positive accounting theory. He also introduced research workshops into the program, injecting a new dynamism into the department. It was the first accounting department in Australia to have a structured program of workshops, in which high profile academics from around the country were invited to present papers – and then received a grilling from Ball’s keen honours students. Professor Ball boosted the proportion of honours graduates choosing to pursue academic careers to about 40 percent, a far higher proportion than in later years. Professor Ball will receive the degree of Doctor of Economics honoris causa in recognition of his distinguished academic career and outstanding contribution to the accounting profession.


Doctor of Economics honoris causa