In 1955, Dr. Larzette Hale became the first black female CPA to earn a Ph.D. in accounting. She was head of the Utah State University School of Accountancy for 13 years before retiring in 1990. She was national president of Beta Alpha Psi and the American Woman's Society of CPAs.
Dr. Hale was placed in an orphanage at the age of 11. Her father had died and her mother could not take care of her sister and her because they were at-risk in the deep rural South. An excellent performance in a typing class led to a recommendation for her to help out in the orphanage's business office. Dr. Hale came under the wings of the orphanage's accountant, Ms. Brooks, and began to assist with bookkeeping. Thus, Dr. Hale's first mentor inspired her to want accounting as a profession and to become a CPA.
Dr. Hale graduated from Langston University in a time when blacks were not allowed to enroll in Oklahoma's two state universities. She went on to earn a master's degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin and worked as a teacher at Clark College, where a mentor encouraged her to sit for the CPA Exam. In 1951, she earned her CPA license in Georgia. Four years later, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, a first for a black female CPA.
Dr. Hale worked as a CPA, a college professor and a researcher for over 43 years. She was professor emeritus of accounting at Utah State University, where she led its school of accounting for more than 13 years.
She also elected president of the American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants, and became the first black appointed to the Utah Board of Regents of Higher Education.