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Ross Community Remembers Professor Harold Arnett

2/8/2011 --

Accounting professor was known for his sense of humor and love of teaching.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Emeritus Professor of Accounting Harold Arnett, PhD, CPA, and CMA, passed away Sunday, Feb. 6, after a long illness. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Arnett joined the business school faculty in 1962, and taught at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

He is survived by his wife, Betty; three children, Melia, Brock, and Carl; and four grandchildren. A memorial is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 13, from 2-4 p.m. at the Ann Arbor Women’s City Club,1830 Washtenaw Ave. The family is planning a Naval burial at sea in Portsmouth, Va.

Jovial and outgoing, Arnett was a natural in the classroom and always thought of himself as an educator more than anything else, says Betty Arnett. "He loved teaching and made accounting come alive for his students," she says. "Everybody loved Harold for his sense of humor and twinkly blue eyes."

"He really was a students' teacher," adds Carleton Griffin, assistant director of the Paton Accounting Center, and emeritus professor of accounting. "He wasn’t afraid to give a little 'tough love' to someone who wasn't putting forth their full effort, but he also was very kind to students who needed extra confidence."

In addition, Arnett was an engaging storyteller and host who loved to play bridge and cook homemade pizza for colleagues, notes Eugene Imhoff, Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting. "He always had a story to tell, like teaching at U-M during the demonstrations in the Viet Nam era and having to lock the doors to the classrooms."

Arnett earned his PhD from the University of Illinois and joined the business school faculty upon completing a two-year fellowship as a research associate at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in New York. Having studied the work of William Paton, Arnett set his sights on the University of Michigan when he chose to pursue a career in academia. He and his wife became close friends of the Patons, and Arnett's family has asked that memorial contributions in his honor be made to the Paton Accounting Scholarship Fund.

As for scholarly pursuits, Arnett wrote many articles and monographs that focused on practical applications of accounting principles. He authored or co-authored seven books, including the McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Accounting Course. He also served on the committees of numerous business and professional associations, and consulted for several businesses and organizations.

Paul Danos, dean at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, is a former senior associate dean and accounting chair at Ross who collaborated with Arnett on a number of research projects. "Harold was a truly generous man with a mixture of good-heartedness, Midwestern graciousness, and a touch of U.S. Navy earthiness," Danos says of his late mentor. "In my office, I still have a beautiful, hand-carved briar pipe that he gave me as a gift when such a precious thing was far out of my reach. I think of the times in his office or at his home, and that long-ago aroma of his exotic tobaccos puts a smile on my face. It was a good time, a simpler time, and I will always appreciate having known such a good and giving friend."

For more information, contact:
Deborah Holdship, (734) 647-4626,