Fred Phillips

Master Teacher Award - Spring 2006

“Does the need of the many outweigh the need of the few? Or is it that the needs of the few outweigh the need of the many?” This debate originating between Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock on the legendary series Star Trek is emblematic of the challenge teachers everywhere face in their profession. One possible measure of success as a teacher is the ability to defeat the implied tradeoff that the needs of the many must be balanced against the needs of the few. By extension a Master Teacher can be defined as one who has been able to completely defeat the tradeoff!

Fred Phillips is a Master Teacher. Students are in awe of Fred’s ability to hold 120 of them enthralled about accounting for ninety minutes on a Monday morning at 8.30am! Testimonials consistently praise Fred’s commitment and love for fostering individual learning. One student was incredulous at Fred’s willingness to exchange upwards of 10 emails a day to ensure the student has grasped a concept. For Fred there is no bigger achievement than to turn students “on” to accounting. At the introductory level this is as simple, yet profound, as instilling curiosity about the discipline and the profession. At the graduate level it is assembling individual pieces of thought leading to the big picture or peeling away layers of a complex picture to reveal its underlying components to achieve a fuller understanding of accounting.

Fred’s success as a teacher par excellence is exemplified by an impressive list of achievements. He is a past recipient of and a winner, this year, of the University of Saskatchewan Students Association Teaching Excellence Award. He has twice won the College of Commerce Award for most effective teacher and has also won the Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc) Teacher of the Year award.  In fact, Fred has either been nominated for or won a teaching related award in every year since coming to the University of Saskatchewan in 1996. And prior to coming here he won the teaching excellence award at the University of Texas at Austin in 1996!

Fred Phillips is also the quintessential teacher-scholar. His teaching has informed his research and vice-versa. He has achieved great success as a published researcher—the research frequently originating from something in the classroom. He is three time winner of the case writing competition held annually by the Canadian Academic Accounting Association and the author of an introductory accounting textbook noted by students and instructors alike for its outstanding pedagogy. He is an Associate Editor of the prestigious accounting education journal, Issues in Accounting Education. This is an extremely challenging and demanding role to which Fred has tirelessly contributed by working assiduously with authors to help them through the manuscript review and revision process and in so doing contributing to their ongoing development as authors and researchers. His contributions to the journal and to the discipline of accounting education has been so prolific and substantive that it led the journal editor, Professor Sue Ravenscroft, to joke that the journal should perhaps be renamedIssues in FREDucation.

With Fred Phillips there is no arrogance or artifice. There is only thoughtfulness, insight, simplicity, generosity, honesty and respect. Returning to Star Trek, Kirk and Spock need to look no further than Fred Phillips, Master Teacher, and his peers to learn a thing or two about solving a logical conundrum!

Unlike Archimedes, who reportedly had to step into a bathtub for his “aha” experience, for those of us, students and colleagues alike, who know Fred, all it takes is to step into Fred’s classroom as a student, or have him as an academic referee providing comments on our work, or engage with him on a discourse about teaching and research as a colleague, for us to yell, all in one voice, “Eureka!”