Director of Graduate Accountancy Programs and Professor of Accounting Diane Pattison Creates an Accounting Legacy at USD

Monday, June 17, 2019TOPICS: LeadershipSpotlights

USD professor Diane Pattison receiving the Ernst & Young Excellence Fund AwardDirector of Graduate Accountancy Programs and Professor of Accounting Diane Pattison receives the Ernst & Young Excellence Fund Award
begin quoteProfessor Pattison discusses being awarded the Ernst & Young Excellence Fund Award, her professional journey, and being part of the Torero family.

Joining the University of San Diego in 1986, Academic Director of Graduate Accountancy Programs and Professor of Accounting Diane Pattison has created a legacy with her 33 years of commitment to the School of Business. Throughout her career, numbers have remained a common thread -- from starting out as a high school math teacher to evolving into an accounting professional, she then merged the two paths to become an accounting professor and expert here at USD. Professor Pattison discusses being awarded the Ernst & Young Excellence Fund Award, her professional journey, and being part of the Torero family.

Getting Started

How did you get started in the field of accounting? How has the field changed since you started working in it?

My professional career began in mathematics and a high school teaching credential. But, very soon, I recognized I was an expensive woman to keep and so, to further my business experience, I moved into accounting as I recognized the value in understanding accounting, budgeting, and taxes.

A lot has changed since I got into this field. When I started in accounting, I think ten-key calculators were used for adding columns of numbers. Now data analytics are significant in accounting and, therefore, analyzing the information and applying critical thinking skills have become more critical.  

Making a Mark Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Describe your experience working with students here at USD.

I joined the USD School of Business over 33 years ago and love the student-centric approach offered here since the very beginning. Not long after I started, Ethel Sykes, a former long-standing USD accounting professor, suggested I assume the role of advisor to Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), an honors society for accounting, finance, and information systems students. This started my trajectory to working more closely with students outside of the classroom, which is one of the things I am most proud of in my time here at the university. Later on, I took on national roles for BAP including regional director and eventually, national president.

Establishing Accounting at USD

What accomplishments are you most proud of from your tenure here at USD?

I’m proud to have been a part of the accounting faculty team that originally developed the Master of Science in Accountancy (MACC) and Master of Science in Taxation (MTAX) programs here at the USD School of Business. I also strongly supported acquiring separate AACSB - the professional organization that provides accreditation to schools of business - accounting accreditation to strengthen the reputation of USD’s accountancy programs. I believe this provides the USD School of Business and our students with an added academic credential that many other schools do not offer. In fact, the USD School of Business is one of only five schools in California that maintains separate AACSB accounting accreditation.   

Budget, Budget, Budget!

What subject do you love to teach? What is one lesson from your class that people can apply to their everyday life?

I love teaching cost accounting. Although students are not certain of its importance in CPA firms, most of them don’t remain in public accounting for their entire careers and tend to move to industry positions where cost accounting becomes very relevant. Also, many of the topics in the course relate specifically to their personal lives, such as budgeting.

I’m a strong believer in planning/budgeting. For example, if you have a goal -- let’s say, buying a house -- what is your plan for saving for the down payment? Making to-do lists is also just an adaptation of budgeting and something we all do in our everyday lives. Each item is like a line item on a budget and you cross each one off as you go.

Excellence in Accounting

How did it feel to receive the Ernst & Young Excellence Fund Award?

At the Accounting Spring Awards Banquet this year, I was honored to receive the Ernst & Young Excellence Fund Award. I have had an extensive and well-rounded career here at USD including my teaching, service, and research efforts. It was a memorable evening, not only for the recognition but also because I am chair of the scholarship committee that awarded over $100,000 in scholarships that night. Prior to the event, the committee worked all year to raise funds and review applications, so it’s always a wonderful feeling to see students receive the scholarships that we worked so hard to offer.   

A Lifetime of Impact

After years of dedication and service here at USD, Professor Pattison is now preparing for retirement. However, she can rest assured that her impact on the university and her students will be felt for years to come. She now looks forward to spending more time with her family including two sons, three grandchildren, and her animals, including four horses, two cats, and a dog. “In my retirement, I am certain I will never want for something to do,” exclaimed Pattison.


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658