U of A Graduate Jack Fay Celebrates 56 Years of Teaching Tax Law

May 30, 2017

Jack Fay, left, and his wife, Mia, right, visit campus in 2013 when their daughter, Jessica Sliger, received the Young Alumni Award from the College of Education and Health Professions.
Jack Fay, left, and his wife, Mia, right, visit campus in 2013 when their daughter, Jessica Sliger, received the Young Alumni Award from the College of Education and Health Professions.

By Bettina Lehovec, University Relations staff writer

University of Arkansas alumnus Jack Fay retired from Pittsburg State University in Kansas last summer, but his work continues to impact the field of tax history and law. The Journal of Business and Educational Leadership published an article he co-wrote, "U.S. Presidents and Personal Income Tax: Did They Pay Their Fair Share?" in the fall.

Another co-written article, "Individual Income Tax: A Cross-Continental Comparison," was published in the World Journal of Social Sciences in March.

Fay wasn't trying to make a political statement with his article on presidential taxes, he said. He found the controversy interesting and wanted to explore the history. Much of his research has been motivated by a similar curiosity, along with a sense of what might interest his students in the accounting classes he taught.

Favorites among the many articles he's written are a comparison of corporate taxes around the world, a look at presidential candidate Mitt Romney's taxes and an examination of the tax implications of winning a lottery.

Fay spent 56 years teaching business and accounting, retiring as a full professor at age 78. He's enjoying some well-earned down time, but misses his teaching and research work, he said.

"I liked having a captive audience to hear my corny jokes," he quipped in an email. "And I knew that I could tell my tax classes all about tax laws and tax history — most of the time straight from my head — from my many years of teaching tax and doing tax returns for more than a half century."

The Joplin, Missouri, native came to the U of A with a scholarship in 1955, intent on preparing himself for whatever life brought his way, he said. He majored in general business administration, accounting, English and physical education, graduating cum laude with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1959.

He followed that with a master of education in physical education in 1960 and a doctorate in accounting in 1975.

Fay started his career as a high school teacher and coach, earning an annual salary of $4,100, he said. He started teaching courses at Kansas City Business College in 1969, and he returned to the U of A in 1972 for his doctoral work.

The three-time alumnus has had a varied career, teaching at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Columbus College (now Columbus State University) in Georgia, the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg and Stetson University in Florida before joining the faculty at Pittsburg State University in Kansas in 1996. He was made a full professor in 2003.

Research interests spanned a range of topics, from teaching tax law to the ins and outs of international taxation. Fay published a book, Accounting Certification, Educational, and Reciprocity Requirements: An International Guide, and hundreds of journal articles, conference papers and technical reports.

Honors include Best Paper for a 2008 issue of International Journal of the Academic Business World and Best Paper of a Track at the 2016 conference of the American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences. That paper presented his recent work on the history of presidential tax paying.

Fay served on numerous state, national and international committees throughout his career.

Two of Fay's children also are U of A grads. Jessica Fay Sliger earned a bachelor of science and a master's degree in teaching from the College of Education and Health Professions. A Silas Hunt Scholar, she received the prestigious Senior Honor Citation in 2007. Sliger taught Spanish at Rogers High School for about seven years and is now attending dental school at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Eric Fay earned a bachelor of science and a master's degree in health sciences from the college. He now works in the Department of Development for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he helped develop a doctoral program in occupational therapy that will start in fall 2018.

An older son, Jeff Fay, is the CEO of a computer security company in Washington, D.C.

Jack Fay's wife, Mia S. Fay, has multiple degrees, but none from the U of A. She worked as a school counselor for many years and recently retired as a counseling therapist.

Fay continues to be immersed in the world of taxation, completing a total of 17 federal and state tax returns for himself and family members this spring.

"Good thing I am a young 79!" he wrote in an email.

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