Manchester University / Alumni / Book explores history of accounting program

Book explores history of accounting program

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Kelley Brenneman ’14 has written a book about the history of accounting at Manchester.

Brenneman, who earned a history degree at MU and a Master of Library Science from IUPUI, traces Manchester’s storied program from its origins, through its growth under the leadership of her grandfather, Art Gilbert ’53, to the present.

Gilbert, who taught at Manchester from 1958 to 1998, died June 26. He was, however, able to attend the May 2018 groundbreaking of the new Lockie and Augustus Chinworth Center, which houses the Arthur L. Gilbert College of Business.

In the book’s epilogue, Brenneman writes that her grandfather didn’t want his name on the college. “I always thought my real legacy was the students themselves. All I did was teach. They (the students) were what made the department so good.”

Through the years, Manchester restructured its business programs as the economy and market demands evolved. Accounting was part of the Economics and Business Department in the late 1960s when it became its own concentration. Richard Harshbarger ’56, professor emeritus of economics, and Lola Sanger, the only faculty member who taught accounting from 1951 to 1958, joined with Gilbert in developing the accounting major. Other faculty members such as Dorothy Johnson, associate professor emerita of business, also helped pave the way.

Eventually, accounting became its own department.

Though many alumni associate Gilbert with Manchester accounting, “there was a program there long before my grandfather came,” says Brenneman. “The foundations that were there in order for him to build the program are just as important as his contributions were.”

Deb Sprong, a longtime editor at The Elkhart Truth and Warsaw Times-Union, edited Brenneman’s manuscript, and MU Archivist Jeanine Wine ’76 helped Brenneman with research and illustrations. The book, which includes many historical photos from the Archives, will be available later this fall.