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New faculty focus: Tom Linsmeier

March 2, 2017
Photo: Tom Linsmeier

Thomas G. Ragatz Accounting and Law Distinguished Chair • Hometown: Tomah, Wisconsin • Educational/professional background: Ph.D., Business Administration: Accounting, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1985; MBA, Accounting, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1980; BBA, Accounting, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1978; Certified Public Accountant: Wisconsin (inactive) • Most recent position: Member, Financial Accounting Standards Board, 2006-2016



How did you get into your field of research?

Interest in financial reporting and accounting standard-setting activities during my MBA and Ph.D. coursework at UW–Madison

What attracted you to UW–Madison?

This time, it was the opportunity to pay forward the excellent education and opportunities provided in my career that came from my graduate education at UW–Madison.

What was your first visit to campus like?

In the 1980s in graduate school, it was both exciting and intimidating. This time, it was a déjà vu experience, sometimes feeling like a comfortable old shoe; other times it was disconcerting, sorting out what has changed for the better and the worst.

Favorite place on campus?

The Terrace! It took me at least five years after Graduate School to no longer miss spring and summer afternoons and evenings on the Terrace. It is great fun to have the opportunity again.

What are you most enjoying so far about working here?

I am most enjoying working with faculty and doctoral students in starting up new research projects.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea?

My job for the past 10 years was as member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which sets accounting policies that companies must follow in issuing financial reports in the U.S. and certain capital markets around the world. My scholarly activities before joining the FASB directly informed my accounting policy decisions, which result in financial statements that provide a faithful representation of the economic success of companies and facilitate the efficient allocation of capital in U.S. markets and markets around the globe. This is the core of the Wisconsin Idea. I hope to continue this research program at UW–Madison with both colleagues and graduate students.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?

To many people’s surprise, there are no right answers in accounting. The judgments and estimates underlying the preparation of financial reports are numerous and can lead to very interesting incentives and a high degree of second-guessing that makes accounting much more a social science than a hard science.

Hobbies/other interests: Biking, boating, hiking, and sports fanatic (both Badgers and Packers). I am a Green Bay Packer shareholder and season ticket holder.