The chartered accountancy profession recently lost a leading figure in accounting education when Professor Lucas van Vuuren (86) passed away at his Hermanus home in July 2020. SAICA pays tribute to Professor van Vuuren’s commitment to and passion for accounting education.
Professor Lucas van Vuuren’s track record illustrates his life-long commitment to accounting education in South Africa. He achieved his MCom Accounting degree from the University of Pretoria in 1960 and qualified as a chartered accountant (CAs(SA)) in 1965. He was a senior lecturer in accounting at the University of South Africa (Unisa) from 1965 to 1968.
Professor van Vuuren later became professor of accounting and was head of Unisa’s Department of Applied Accountancy (which he founded) from 1972 to 1980. He also completed a postgraduate Diploma in Tertiary Education at Unisa in 1982.
Between 1981 and 1983, Professor van Vuuren was the first director of the Education and Education Requirements Committee of the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB). This entailed the special assignment of defining the institutional objectives of the qualifying examination and coordination of educational activities. In 1984, he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the PAAB − a position he held until 1998.
Since the establishment of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants (ABASA) in 1985, Professor van Vuuren spearheaded continued discussions between ABASA and the PAAB to facilitate support for prospective black CAs(SA). In his role at the PAAB, he was determined to find ways of assisting students at non-accredited universities not only with training but through financial support utilising the PAAB’s National Education Fund. For many years, Professor van Vuuren was a member of the management committee of the Eden Trust (the precursor of SAICA’s Thuthuka Bursary Fund), which provided financial assistance to black students.
Following on from years of research into the field of accounting history, Professor van Vuuren initiated the establishment of the South African Accounting History Research Centre (SAAHRC) situated within the Department of Accountancy at the University of Johannesburg. The SAAHRC promotes the study of accounting history as a discipline in Southern Africa, highlighting the significance of the history of accounting on the African continent.
Special positions held by the late Professor van Vuuren included being the founding member and vice-president of the Southern African Accounting Association (SAAC) – previously the South African Association of University Teachers of Accounting – from 1985 to 1986. He also held an honorary professor of accounting position at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University which was awarded to him in 2000, as well as honorary professor of accounting positions at Stellenbosch University, Unisa and the University of Pretoria.
Professor van Vuuren authored numerous articles for accountancy journals and was the co-author of textbooks such as Accounting: an introduction − an accounting handbook used for many years at various South African universities − and Financial accounting. He also was the co-author of the 1984 report of the PAAB Educational Committee titled ‘The PAAB’s policies pertaining to the education and training requirements for entrance into the profession’. The report laid the foundations on which the current educational requirements of the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors (IRBA) and SAICA were built.
In 1998, the University of Johannesburg awarded him a certificate of recognition (‘oorkonde’) for his extraordinary service to the profession and the various universities.
Over the years, he attended numerous congresses and conferences in southern Africa and abroad and served on the finance committees of his church and sports clubs.
In April 2016, SAICA honoured him (along with other CA(SA) academic veterans) for his contribution to the professional education of CAs(SA). If #ProfessionofNationalValue was a person, Professor van Vuuren would, without a shadow of a doubt, be the embodiment of that.
‘The accountancy profession is hugely indebted to the contribution Professor van Vuuren made to the academic landscape, and his input, passion and commitment to furthering education and supporting black aspiring CAs(SA) will be sorely missed. May his soul Rest in Peace,’ concludes Chantyl Mulder, SAICA’s Executive Director: Nation Building.