Robert N. Anthony '38, L.H.D. '63, a life trustee at Colby who was described by the Harvard Business School (HBS) as "a giant in field of management accounting," died December 1 in Hanover, N.H., at age 90.
Robert Anthony '38, L.H.D. '63
Anthony joined the HBS faculty in 1940 and was the Ross Graham Walker Professor of Management Controls, Emeritus, at the time of his death. He was world renowned as a scholar, author, and innovator in the field of management accounting and control. He also distinguished himself in public service as assistant secretary of defense (1965-68) and as an advisor to the Comptroller General and other government agencies.
He was named to Colby's Board of Trustees in 1959 and had a long history of service and generosity to the College. He was chair of the board from 1978 to 1983 and was one of only four life trustees at the time of his death. He received the Colby Brick Award, the Marriner Distinguished Service Award, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was a principal donor to the Anthony-Mitchell-Schupf Residence Hall.
At Colby he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a master's degree in 1940 and a doctorate in 1952, both from Harvard, serving in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy during World War II.
"He had a monumental impact, not only on his students through his teaching and textbooks, but also on the business, nonprofit, and government worlds," said Professor Regina E. Herzlinger, a former student who became Anthony's colleague on the HBS faculty.
At the request of the Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASB) he studied nonprofit organizations' accounting procedures and recommended that they produce the same sorts of financial reports as profit-making organizations. FASB standard number 34, on capitalizing the cost of interest, is directly traceable to his work.
During the Vietnam War Anthony served as assistant secretary of defense under his former Harvard colleague Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. He was responsible for building and presenting to Congress an $80-billion budget and for managing a monumental effort to overhaul the department's accounting and control system. "He changed the way the Defense Department operated," a colleague said.
He also served locally. A past president of the American Accounting Association and a member of the Accounting Hall of Fame (at Ohio State), he took pride that he was elected town auditor of Waterville Valley, N.H., where he spent much of his retirement. In 1986 he said, "I had opposition the first time, but I haven't had any since. I got 24 votes last year; that's all there were."
Anthony is survived by his wife, Katherine Yeager Anthony; a son, Robert Jr., M.D.; a daughter, Victoria '77; five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his first wife, Gretchen Lynch Anthony.