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College of Business Alumni


50th Golden Alumnus

GAYLEN N. LARSON (BS Accountancy 1962)
Gaylen Larson's professional career spanned forty years with four primary employers, including what is now the largest international accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche. He was a Member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board from 1996 until his retirement in 2001. He also served as a consultant and Director with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where he helped them take a leadership position in auditing and reporting on the adequacy of internal control processes and systems.

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In industry, Mr. Larson was a member of the senior management committee of Household International, a Fortune 100 conglomerate. His responsibilities included accounting, auditing, budgeting, both strategic and operating planning, income and property taxes, insurance risk management, and serving on the committee that approved large, commercial loans. He also supervised the aviation function and had profit center responsibilities for the broker-dealer business.

At Deloitte where he completed 18 years of service in 1979, he was promoted to the partnership level in eleven years. He was a full time member of the Deloitte audit staff when he was just twenty one years old. He passed the CPA exam with excellent scores and had almost a year's experience working with that staff before he graduated. Still, he was able to graduate in just four years. He placed in the 100th percentile of a written examination commonly given to entry level staff accountants by the then Big 8 firms.

Mr. and Mrs. Larson were married while in college. Mrs. Larson is NIU's own Joanne Matthew, a 1961 NIU graduate with a degree in business education. They were married in 1960, after a three year courtship that started before they became NIU students. They are looking forward to celebrating their 52nd anniversary in September.

With both Gaylen and Joanne working their way through school, it was difficult to participate in campus activities after they were married. Gaylen's accounting position required that he work four hours a day on a six day a week basis. Before this, he was a very active member of Alpha Phi Omega and had his own show on the campus radio station. He also served as President of the accounting club established by several Chicago colleges and universities with the objective of helping each other prepare for careers in public accounting.

Mr. Larson attended a six month basic military training camp in Fort Knox, Kentucky and completed his six year mandatory military obligation by serving as an enlisted supply specialist in the U.S. Army Reserves. This required that each person be dressed in full uniform and attend all meetings, even if his non-military job required that he be out of town on those days. These "drills" required that reservists be on duty for almost 40 hours per month in addition to attending a two week long summer camp.

During his career Mr. Larson was often asked to serve on special committees. These appointments included serving as the Chairman of the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission on Fraudulent Financial Reporting (aka "COSO"). His committee developed guidance enabling enterprises around the world to assess the adequacy of their internal controls and to report on these controls to investors and regulators, as well as to operating management.

He served as the Chairman of the Committee on Corporate Financial Reporting of the Financial Executives International, where he led a group of senior financial officers focused on corporate concerns regarding new or changing rules. In this role, he worked closely with several top level corporate and governmental officials. For example, Mr. Larson discussed industry concerns regarding internal controls reporting with several Chief Accountants of the Securities and Exchange Commission, including persons like Sandy Burton and Lynn Turner. He led discussions with the Comptroller General of the United States to obtain their support of the COSO report which would ultimately revolutionize the scope of auditor services and industry focus on these controls. Mr. Larson also appeared before the U. S. Congress on behalf of the FEI.

Mr. Larson served as Chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' Special Committee on Finance Companies which addressed the need for improvement of industry accounting and auditing guidance. His committee's efforts ultimately led to complete rejection of the original committee's favored combination method and the industry's favored rule of 78's method. The FASB's greater authority ultimately was used to issue a new standard (No. 121) confirming the committee's conclusions.

Mr. Larson also supported the accounting standard setting process by serving as a charter member of the Emerging Issues Task Force, and as a member of the Financial Instruments Task Force; the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council; the Auditing Standards Advisory Council;the Illinois CPA Society's Executive Advisory Committee; the AICPA's Special Committee on Financial Reporting; and as a Trustee of the Financial Executives Research Foundation. While at the FASB, he served as Board Advisor to the team developing accounting guidance for Business Combinations.

Mr. Larson has also been active in community service, having served as Chairman of the Board of Chicago's Gateway Foundation; Chairman of NIU College of Business Board of Executive Advisors; Director of the Goodman Theater; member of the Business Advisory Council for the University of Illinois College of Commerce and Business Administration; member of the Northwestern University Associates; and as a member of and contributor to the NIU Foundation.

He has received the following awards and recognition for his work:

  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Northern Illinois University
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, NIU College of Business
  • Industry Accountant of the Year, National Beta Alpha Psi
  • Distinguished Service Award, Financial Executives International
  • Braden Award, Case Western Reserve University

After conducting a readership survey, Accounting Today recognized Larson as being the second most influential accountant in American industry. John Reed, CEO of Citicorp at that time, was the only person considered to possess more influence in accounting matters.

Mr. Larson has been retired from full-time employment in the profession for over ten years. His hobbies have included travel (he has visited about 80 countries), fishing, and investing. He recently returned to his roots by agreeing to serve as CEO of Gaylen's Family Farms, LLC.