Axel W. Swang, a near-legendary accounting professor at Lipscomb University and a local academic giant, died Tuesday of undisclosed causes. He was 91.
Swang arrived on the Lipscomb campus in 1947 as a $200-a-month accounting instructor intending to stay only one year. In 1992, 45 years later, Swang finally retired from LU, leaving behind an accounting program that many feel has a reputation as one of the best in the region.
“There is no end to the roll call of accountants who learned their craft from Axel Swang and owe their careers to him,” Turney Stevens, dean of the LU College of Business, said in a release. “He was a tough teacher, but he always had the best interest of his students at heart. There would not be a College of Business today were it not for his hard work and the personal sacrifices he made to build this program. He could have pursued any number of career opportunities. But, he chose to stay at Lipscomb where he turned out world-class accountants. He was a special man.”
A University of Alabama doctoral graduate, Swang earned his certified public accountant certification in 1953. He served as chair of the business department for most of his tenure and was instrumental in putting Lipscomb “on the map” for its accounting program, according to LU officials.
“Axel Swang was an icon not only at Lipscomb but also in the accounting profession,” Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry said. “He laid a foundation — brick by brick — upon which our business program today has been built. The Swang Center on campus is home to our College of Business today. It rightfully carries his name and furthers his faithful spirit. Dr. Swang set the standard for Lipscomb reaching into the Nashville community with competent, ethical and moral graduates. His influence will continue to impact business students and the Nashville business community for generations to come.”
In addition to teaching, Swang became the first executive director of the Tennessee Society of CPAs in 1954. He was also a member of the American Institute of CPAs and served as secretary-treasurer of the Southern States Conference of CPAs for 14 years.
Swang’s contributions to and impact on LU were numerous. For example, in 1984, the Axel Swang Center for Business Administration opened. In 2005, Swang honored his late wife, Doris, by funding the Doris Swang Chapel that is a focal point in the university’s Ezell Center.
Swang also served as head basketball coach for the academy’s high school team before becoming head coach of the Bison baseball team for the 1952 season, during which he led the team to the Volunteer Athletic Conference Western Division Championship. In 1997, he was inducted into the Lipscomb University Hall of Fame for his meritorious service to the athletic program.
In addition to his work on Lipscomb's campus, Swang preached for more than 50 years in congregations of the Churches of Christ both locally and in Kentucky. He served as an elder for the Paragon Mills Church of Christ for over 20 years.