When Harris L. Devor started his junior year at Temple University, his first at the university after a stint in the Air Force and two years at another university, he was searching for some direction. “I was sort of floundering, honestly,” he says. He registered for an introductory accounting course for no other reason than he always had an aptitude for math. But Mr. Devor’s outlook shifted dramatically by the end of that first class. To this day, nearly 47 years later, he credits Professor Wayne Thomas, not just for turning him on to accounting but for providing the foundation for what’s become a 45-year career studded with achievement.“I reached out to him many years later—he was at a law firm here in Philadelphia—and tried to express my gratitude,” Mr. Devor says. “The key to a great school and academic experience, to me, is the teachers. When I graduated, I went to PricewaterhouseCoopers, where I was surrounded by Ivy League and private university graduates. I can tell you those schools may have been more prestigious, but they did not have better teachers than I had at Temple. I attribute whatever success I’ve achieved and the love I have for my field to my teachers at Fox.” Mr. Devor spent the first nine years of his career at Price Waterhouse. The work was unrelenting, but he rallied around an underdog spirit. His blue-collar upbringing in a rowhouse in Northeast Philadelphia ignited the flame, but it only really flickered until he got to Temple. There, surrounded by other students like himself, Mr. Devor realized it worked to his advantage to be underestimated. He went on to co-found a public accounting firm in Philadelphia with two of his closest friends to form Shechtman Marks Devor. In 2016, their firm merged with Friedman LLP, an international accounting and financial advising practice headquartered in Manhattan, and essentially became its Philadelphia office. Mr. Devor serves as both an audit partner and the partner in charge of Friedman’s Philadelphia Forensic Accounting, Litigation Support and Valuation Service Practice. Over the better part of the last four decades, Mr. Devor has become a highly sought-after forensic accountant and expert witness. He’s worked on, and often testified in, many of the landmark accounting/auditing-fraud cases of our time, including those against WorldCom, Lehman Brothers, Enron, Tyco, Sunbeam and the auditor of the largest feeder fund to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. Mr. Devor is grateful for every day of it—working alongside his best friends, doing intriguing work that directly impacts the public’s welfare—but what he’s proudest of from his long career is achieving a position that enables him to give back. He sits/sat on the boards of a number of philanthropic organizations, including the Greater Philadelphia Jewish Federation, Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia, the Senior Law Center, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, for which he is the Chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Council and a member of the National Council. Temple is among his causes, too. “It’s simple. I owe my career, my professional life, and to some extent, my personal life to Temple. So, I have a responsibility to give back,” Mr. Devor says. “And I love teaching.” He returns to Fox once a year with a colleague to teach a forensic accounting class for master-degree students. “I’ve always toyed with the idea that when my career’s over, I’d like to go back to Temple and teach, if they will have me,” Mr. Devor says. It’s more than that, though. Mr. Devor is drawn back to Temple because he still sees the school that centered him and brought some meaning to his life. It’s evolved, of course, but it still embodies the underdog spirit, just as he does.
Temple University Degree
Bachelor of Business Administration ’73, Fox School of Business
Temple University Awards & Affiliatons
- Guest lecturer, Fox School of Business
- Member, The Accounting Circle, Fox School of Business
- Recipient, Community Service Award, Fox School of Business Accounting Achievement Awards, 2018
What I wanted to be when I was 20 years old
“I was pre-med and playing on the basketball team when I started college. But I just didn’t study enough. I withdrew after my freshman year and joined the Air Force, which prepared me to take school more seriously. So, I guess I wanted to be a doctor at 20.”
Best piece of advice anyone ever gave me
My dad either said it or just exhibited it in everyday life: “If you work hard, you will succeed.” He spent most of his day loading trucks at a plumbing supply warehouse—with a bad back. But he never complained, and it never slowed him down. He never lost sight of his goals, which were to provide for his family and ensure that his kids had opportunities that he didn’t. His example is how I measure my performance every day.