Provost Peggy Agouris sent the following message to the campus community on Feb. 23, 2024. – Ed.

Dear Colleagues,

I write to share the news that James E. Smith, John S. Quinn Professor of Accounting, Emeritus, passed away on February 9, 2024.

Jim Smith was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on September 18, 1943, to James Emanual Smith III and Addie Lela Thompson Smith. He received his B.A. degree in accounting from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1965.  Following graduation from SLU, he worked in the Houston office of Price Waterhouse, during which time he also completed an MBA with an accounting emphasis from the University of Houston.  After moving from Houston to Tucson, he taught introductory accounting courses at the University of Arizona, where he received his Ph.D. in Accounting.

Professor Smith joined the faculty of the Raymond A. Mason School of Business in 1970, consistently ranking as an outstanding teacher. During his tenure at William & Mary, he effectively balanced the roles of teaching, research and publication, and professional service while holding various leadership positions. He was an Associate Dean for three years and from 1983-1995 he was Director of the Accounting Program, during which time the William & Mary Accounting Program was consistently in the top twenty accounting programs in the United States. He was promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor after only three years and from Associate Professor to Professor in an additional three years. He retired from William & Mary in 2015.

While his primary area of expertise was taxation, he taught nearly every course in the undergraduate accounting curriculum and several courses in the graduate curriculum.  Professor Smith was known by his students as the “ultimate story teller.”  He was able to take the subject of taxation, which some might consider dry, and conduct his class in such a manner that his students enjoyed attending, even at 8:00 a.m.  He also conducted various education programs for the American Institute of CPAs, Federal Tax Workshops, and various state CPA societies.

His teaching garnered him numerous awards, including the Thomas Ashley Graves Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence; BBA Faculty Excellence Award; Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence; MAcc Faculty Excellence Award; Virginia Society of CPAs Outstanding Educator Award; American Institute of CPAs Outstanding Discussion Leader Award (twice); James Madison University’s Outstanding Educator Award, American Taxation Association/Arthur Andersen Teaching Innovation Award; and Virginia Business magazine’s Super CPA award.

He was the author or co-author of four books, including three textbooks which comprise the South-Western’s Federal Taxation Series, the market leader for tax textbooks. Jim was also the author of South-Western’s Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and Treasury Regulations: Annotated and Selected. His publications have appeared in the top accounting professional journals, including the Accounting ReviewTax AdvisorTaxation for Accountants, and Journal of Corporate Taxation. He presented his research at numerous professional meetings, including those for the American Accounting Association, American Taxation Association, and the Administrators of Accounting Programs.

Professor Smith served on and chaired many committees for the Mason School and the university.  In addition, he brought national visibility to the Mason School’s Accounting Program through his leadership positions in the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and in the Accounting Program Leadership Group (APLG).  For AACSB, he served on the Accounting Accreditation Committee and was Vice Chair of Visitation Teams at multiple universities. For APLG, he served on the Board for five years and was elected President.

In addition to his teaching, research and leadership roles, Professor Smith served as William & Mary’s coach and faculty advisor for the national “Tax Challenge,” a tax case competition sponsored by Deloitte. William & Mary students have been widely recognized for their success in this competition – including a feature on the front page of The Wall Street Journal – and his teams received first place in the National Competition fourteen times. During his leadership, the W&M teams garnered over $300,000 in scholarship funds for the William & Mary undergraduate and graduate accounting programs.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Eva Elizabeth Watts. He is survived by Nora Marie Pirie Smith, his wife of over 60 years; daughter, Anne Elizabeth Smith; son James Franklin Smith and wife Kerry Robin Smith; grandchildren Grayson Bailey Smith and Madelyn Jaq Smith; step-grandchildren Christopher and Brandon Kazmierski; great-grandchildren Gavin, Cove, Norah, and Kinsleigh; Godchild and niece Shawne Watts; and family Gordon James, Hugh Thomas, and Frank Evans Pirie, Fannie Pirie Easterly; and many nieces and nephews and their families.

Memorial donations may be made to the John S. Quinn Faculty Endowment (0714) in honor of Professor Smith’s legacy and commitment to the accounting program at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Contributions may be made online at: or mailed and made payable to the W&M Business School Foundation, P.O. Box 3023, Williamsburg, VA 23187.

A memorial service will be held at Bruton Parish Church, 331 Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 24 with a reception following at the Parish House.