Former Students, Others Honor Faculty Member Dr. John Rich

February 18, 2017

A new professorship will honor a long-time Emporia State educator for his ability to start students solidly on their career paths, being well-educated in their major fields of study and in life in general.

Saturday’s bell ringing celebrating the Dr. John C. Rich Distinguished Accounting Professorship marked Emporia State’s sixth consecutive day of celebrations during Now & Forever Campaign Celebration Week, a week-long series of events that culminated with the unveiling of the Now & Forever Campaign grand total that evening.

Rich, now associate dean and professor in the School of Business, has served in a variety of roles since coming to Emporia State as an instructor in 1968. Among those are professor of accounting, department chair, director of student affairs and alumni in the School, acting assistant vice president of academic affairs, interim dean in the School, faculty athletics representative and other leadership positions both on and off-campus. Rich is Emporia State University’s longest-serving faculty member.

The professorship was established by more than 50 donors with a combined giving total of $722,681 in firm commitments and another $131,971 in anticipated gifts, for a grand total of $854,652. Major contributors to this project are Tony Forcum (BSB, ‘73) and his wife, Debbie, of Plano, Texas, Troy Johnston (BSB ‘88) and his wife, Connie (BSB ‘86), of Spring, Texas, the Preston Family Fund, Greg Kossover (BSB, ‘85) of Wichita, Laura McAntee (BS & BSE, ‘48 and MS, ‘61) of Emporia and Ralph Laster (BSB, ‘74) and his wife, Jerri, of Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Tony Forcum, a certified public accountant, explained that as he wound down his career and opened his own consulting firm, he became reflective. 

“You think, ‘What are the things that really make a difference in your career?’ as you stop and look backward,” Forcum said. 

Family and friends had encouraged him, but Dr. John Rich had prepared him for a career in accounting that vaulted him into executive positions at Deloitte & Touche and later as a principal with Deloitte Consulting, the largest consulting firm in the world.

His career mandated that he live in some of the country’s largest cities and travel and work on five continents.

“John Rich prepared me not just to be an accounting professional and an auditing professional, but he helped prepare me for what life in the business world — in towns a lot bigger than Eureka and Emporia — was going to be like,” Forcum said. “That was a big deal to me, because I had no idea. It was really driven home to me after I graduated.”

Forcum, who refers to himself as a country boy from Eureka, Kansas, explained he was the first person on either side of his family to go to college. After graduation, he was thrown into a professional world filled with peers who had attended universities whose student populations were larger than any town he had lived in.

“I felt I was as prepared as they were, because John Rich had prepared us to think broader than just the technical side of our education,” he said. “He really encouraged us to basically get out there and do what we knew we could do and don’t feel intimidated by others who went to bigger schools, brand-name schools.

“He really encouraged us to work hard and to apply what we learned at Emporia State. But not for the stuff John Rich helped me learn in the short four years I was under his tutelage, who knows what would have happened.”

Emporia CPA Tim Wright (BSB, ‘86) of Wright CPA Group concurred, saying Rich had made a tremendous long-term impact on the School of Business and the accounting department, as well as on the individual students themselves.

Wright’s siblings, three who are CPAs and one who is an accountant, all benefitted as he did from taking classes under Rich.

“I still remember it well today,” Wright said. “He is just one of the kindest, most caring college professors you can ever imagine. He has such a heart for students. Absolutely, with John Rich, students come first.”

Wright remembered that despite administrative pressures, budget cuts and other difficulties, Rich made time to get in touch with every accounting student to ensure that each of them were in at least one his classes, if not more.

“He’s an amazing person, not just an amazing professor,” Wright said. “He is most humble and unassuming. He has every reason for not being that way, but he is so kind and humble and caring.”

Wright for several years had wanted to give a gift that could honor Rich’s contribution to his career. With advice and coordination by the Foundation, private gifts made the Dr. John C. Rich Distinguished Accounting Professorship a reality.

“Every day of his career, John Rich has lived out Emporia State University’s mission — changing lives for the common good,” said Allison D. Garrett, ESU president. “You’ve heard how he has changed the lives of his students, but Dr. Rich’s influence will last even longer as they, in turn, share what they have learned with the next generation.”

Rich coordinated the School’s accreditation project and self-evaluation that resulted in its accreditation in 2002 by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Only about 5 percent of all business schools world-wide receive accreditation from AACSB.

In 2014, Ingram’s magazine named Rich an Icon of Education for his dedication to excellence in the School of Business at Emporia State University.

At the University, he has received the Xi Phi Outstanding Faculty Member award in 1974, a University Service Citation in 1994, and the Campus Pride Award in 1996. He also has written and edited articles for numerous regional and national journals.


About Now & Forever

Now and Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University, set out with a working goal to raise $45 million through the most comprehensive campaign in university history. Determined to build spirit, camaraderie and a sense of pride in Hornet Nation, we decided to share our victories. By ringing Silent Joe during each celebration, we announce to the world that the Hornet Nation is Silent No More.

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