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College of Business News

September 20, 2002 -- News Brief
Release provided by the University of Illinois Foundation, 217-333-0246


Family and friends of a longtime and prominent University of Illinois professor turned out Friday, September 20, to dedicate an endowed academic position and a center in his memory in the College of Commerce and Business Administration on the Urbana-Champaign campus. The dedication ceremony was well attended by friends and colleagues of Vernon Zimmerman.

Private gifts totaling $3 million from the Vernon K. and Marilyn Pflederer Zimmerman Foundation to the University of Illinois Foundation have created the Vernon K. Zimmerman Endowed Chair and the Vernon K. Zimmerman Center for International Education and Research in Accounting (CIERA). The late Vernon Zimmerman, who earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at the U of I, is credited with bringing the College of Commerce and Business Administration to national prominence.

A pioneer in the field of international accounting, Vern Zimmerman was a Fulbright Professor in the Graduate School of Business in Vienna, Austria, held a Guggenheim Fellowship for research in the history of European accounting, and served as a visiting professor at Ludwig Maximillian University and Marburg University, both in Germany, and at Xiamen University in China. He served on the College of Commerce and Business Administration faculty from 1956 to 1992, was dean of the College for 15 years, and directed or co-directed CIERA from 1962 to 1996.

"It (the center) was his idea. He never relinquished it even when he was dean. It was his baby," said Professor Art Wyatt (right), a close friend and longtime colleague in the Department of Accountancy.

During his career, Dr. Zimmerman traveled around the world in connection with his position as coordinator of international programs and director of CIERA. He also hosted many visiting scholars to the Urbana-Champaign campus.

Wyatt said Dr. Zimmerman was a thorough and gracious host to his visiting scholars, from greeting them at the airport or train station until they returned home. "They often came back, and they told others," Wyatt said.

"Vern was always accessible and helpful to these foreign visitors," said his wife, Joyce Zimmerman, a director of the Zimmerman Foundation. "He is remembered, respected and loved throughout the world for his kindness to these international visitors."

The Zimmerman Center and Chair are fitting honors.

"There's nothing that could be done that he (Dr. Zimmerman) would be more agreeable to as a tribute to his work," Wyatt said.

"Vern was a very humble person and never would have expected to have these named for him," said Joyce, who added that "it seems very appropriate to name this preeminent center for its founder and for an individual who is remembered and respected as the leader in this field."

"Accounting information is the nerve system of business operations that has become increasingly influenced by cultural and institutional arrangements of different nations. International accounting deals with the resulting complex information systems. The establishment of the Zimmerman Center allows us to pursue the enhancement of research and education in international accounting. We are very grateful for the generosity shown by the Vernon K. and Marilyn Pflederer Zimmerman Foundation," said A. Rashad Abdel-khalik, professor of accountancy and director of CIERA.

Vern Zimmerman set the guidelines for the Vernon and Marilyn Pflederer Zimmerman Foundation before his death in 1996. The Foundation supports CIERA and the U of I Music Education Department, with emphasis on early childhood education and cognitive learning in early music education. Marilyn Zimmerman, Vern Zimmerman's first wife, was a researcher in this field of music.

Press release courtesy of the University of Illinois Foundation. 9/20/02

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