The new dean has been a distinguished Terry College faculty member and administrator for the past 18 years. He’s an award-winning professor, a nationally recognized researcher—and the Tull School of Accounting has risen to new heights under his leadership.
You grew up in Heflin, Ala. What was that like and what did your parents do?
Ayers: Heflin is the county seat, but it's basically a small town in rural Alabama. We had three stoplights. My dad was the superintendent of education for the county and later director for our vocational school. My mom was the guidance counselor and psychology teacher at the high school. She also taught at the junior college. My grandfather was a high school math teacher and football coach, and both my parents spent over 50 years in education. Developing a strong work ethic through a series of manual labor jobs beginning at age nine—and performing my best academically—those were focal points in the Ayers household.
What are your high school memories?
Ayers: Heflin was a great place to live and explore as a young man, and I was heavily involved in church and athletics. I played football in high school until I suffered broken ribs as a junior and concussions my senior year. Our high school graduated about 110 students. I was salutatorian and president of my junior class. My brother Marc had been valedictorian. He never rubbed it in, but I always said my grades were actually better than his!
When Marc finished his undergrad degree in accounting and master's in tax and had a good job in Tampa, it made accounting very attractive to me. I guess it runs in my family because my sister-in-law, Sandy Miller Ayers, earned her BBA and MAcc from Terry.