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Mason business school professor awarded Securities & Exchange Commission fellowship

September 9, 2020   /   by Anna Stolley Persky

Bret Johnson. Photo by Creative Services.

Bret Johnson, assistant professor of accounting in George Mason University’s School of Business, has been awarded a one-year academic fellowship with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

The SEC, an independent agency of the U.S. government, is responsible for enforcing federal securities laws and overseeing financial reporting standard setting and regulation of public companies. The SEC academic fellowship program has existed for more than 40 years.

Johnson is assisting the SEC’s Office of the Chief Accountant with its oversight of accounting and auditing issues. Johnson will also help companies implement new accounting standards and assist regulators in keeping up-to-date with the latest academic research on economic and financial reporting regulatory issues.

“Almost all of my research has to do with the SEC and how the SEC affects company behavior,” Johnson said. “The research that my colleagues and I do is extremely relevant for this fellowship, and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to contribute directly to the work of the SEC by being a liaison between academia and the regulators.”

Johnson is the first Mason accounting professor to receive this honor. The fellowship covers the cost of Johnson’s annual salary and benefits.

“SEC fellowships are highly competitive,” said JK Aier, area chair and associate professor of accounting in Mason’s School of Business. “In my opinion, Bret’s selection is evidence of not only his impressive research work, but also a recognition of the [School of Business’] reputation as one of the largest and most influential accounting programs in the commonwealth and the Greater Washington area.”

Johnson received his bachelor of science and master’s degrees in accounting at Brigham Young University and his PhD in accounting at Ohio State University. He has worked as a senior auditor for Ernst & Young and as a staff accountant at the SEC. He joined the accounting faculty at Mason in 2015.

“Because I was at the SEC before, I can speak their language,” Johnson said. “I can also speak the academic language, so I can help bridge the two worlds during my fellowship.”

Karen A. Kitching, an associate professor in Mason’s School of Business, said that Mason’s accounting faculty are excited for Bret’s opportunity to serve as a fellow.

“Bret brings to the SEC a wealth of experience from his professional and academic background,” said Kitching, who is also the Accounting Advisory Council faculty fellow. “This prestigious position will not only help Bret develop as a teacher and researcher, but it will contribute to the growing reputation of Mason’s accounting program.”