Cornell University Johnson at Cornell University

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Tom Dyckman: Scholar, educator, leader

By Jay Wrolstad

Professor Emeritus Tom Dyckman today
You'd be hard-pressed to find a person who's done more for the Johnson School during his tenure than Thomas "Tom" Dyckman. Among the many hats he's worn are those of professor, associate dean, acting dean, accounting research specialist, and textbook author – and he has handled each with aplomb over the course of his 45 years at the school.

Dyckman arrived at Cornell in 1964 as an accounting professor whose interest in number crunching extended well beyond the classroom to include how human behavior affects accounting policy and investment decisions. "I chose to work at Cornell because there is good balance between teaching and research at the business school," he says.

As the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Accounting for nearly 30 years, Dyckman left a lasting impression on scores of Johnson School MBA graduates. "I love an audience," he says with a small laugh, noting that his lectures are frequently peppered with anecdotes that keep the messages fresh. "It's very satisfying to help students grasp important ideas and then see them go out and be successful."

Dyckman, who retired at the end of 2006, also left his mark as an administrator, using his role as associate dean to help the faculty do their jobs better through initiatives such as the Support for Teaching and Research (STAR) grants awarded to individual instructors.

Professor Tom Dyckman teaching at the Johnson School in 1966.
Professor Tom Dyckman teaching at the Johnson School in 1966...
"Tom is outstanding in all respects – research, teaching, and service to the university," says Joe Thomas, associate dean for academic affairs and Nicholas H. Noyes Professor of Business Administration.

Perhaps Dyckman's biggest contribution to the school was serving two stints as acting dean (1994-95 and 1996-97) during the search to replace former Dean Alan G. Merten. "I did not want it to be a permanent position; I was more interested in moving the school forward," Dyckman says. A particular challenge during this period was responding to the Johnson School's ranking among graduate business schools in Business Week, which had fallen from 15th to 18th place.

While these rankings are subjective, Dyckman notes, they do send a message to prospective students. "I brought a lot of people together – faculty, administrators, and students – to address the situation," he recalls. "We were able to add the Parker Center and we started an immersion program for students." Within two years the ranking rose to eighth place.

Tom Dyckman in 1975
...in 1975...
"Tom did an exceptional job as acting dean, always acting as if the school was the main focus of his efforts," says Thomas, who worked with Dyckman for four decades. "The effort he put into improving our business school ranking, getting everyone involved in pushing the school in a new direction, was a signal achievement."
Dyckman's legacy lives on at the Johnson School with the establishment of the Thomas R. Dyckman Graduate Fellowship. It is just the latest in a long list of honors that includes the American Institute of
Tom Dyckman in 1985
...and in his office in 1985.
Certified Public Accountants' Outstanding Accounting Literature Award in 1966 and 1978, the American Accounting Association's Outstanding Educator Award in 1987, and the Stephen Russell Distinguished Teaching Award in 1994.

"I enjoyed all of the things I was able to do at Cornell," Dyckman says. "The quality of the faculty now is at an all-time high, and so is the quality of the student body."