The University’s accounting department is regarded as top tier by educators and professionals across the country. In fact, our accounting program was most recently recognized among the Top 25 programs in the country by US News and World Report. In addition, the CPA pass rate for our five-year graduates is typically in the top tier of the state of Pennsylvania and in 2011, our pass rate ranked as high as second in the state. The CPA exam is the test mandated by each state in the Commonwealth to ensure an individual’s authority to become a certified public accountant. The only business school ranked ahead of The University in 2011 was the well-regarded Wharton School of Business.
A key component to the value of an accounting degree from The University is the practical skills that students are able to bring with them into the workforce. Continually innovating, the department has developed new initiatives to give The University a greater edge over competitors. The first of these initiatives is the creation of the Accounting Department Professional Alumni Council (ADPAC).
As stated in the ADPAC mission statement, “Under the direction of the accounting faculty, the ADPAC provides practice insights and support to ensure that students are prepared to achieve their fullest potential within the profession.”
Through this initiative, alumni who are partners at top-tier accounting firms will team up with faculty to tailor the curriculum to integrate the most recent industry technologies, one-on-one student mentoring relationships, professional networking opportunities, scholarship opportunities and other skills that will help students stand out within the profession.
In addition to the vast resources provided to students through this initiative, ADPAC seeks to support the accounting department in its ongoing objective of being recognized as a leader in conducting and disseminating relevant applied research to the profession. As stated in the ADPAC mission statement, “This latter objective may be achieved through collaboration on research projects, co-author opportunities, grants, and/or endowed research chair positions.”
To achieve the goals set forth by the organization, ADPAC developed “initiative committees.” The committee’s group faculty and alumni by initiative to ensure that each goal set forth in the mission statement is given targeted attention. The backbone of the initiative is to ensure that there is a strong launch and that membership is constantly reinforced. The Launch and Empower committee takes on the role of this backbone. The team will work to develop meeting schedules, reinforce ongoing membership, and plan and organize the summer weekend on campus. The team is comprised of Doug Boyle, Ph.D.; Linda McGowan, partner PwC; Larry Lynch, partner PwC; and Robert Grasso, partner Deloitte.
Great programs attract great talent. This is a trend that The University’s accounting department has recognized for years and is eager to continue with the help of ADPAC. The committee dedicated to this effort is The Grow High Quality Admissions and Yield team. The University’s alumni network already offers a plethora of opportunities for current students, but the committee hopes to extend these opportunities to prospective students. Members of this committee hope to accomplish this goal by attending student/parent events, sending an official ADPAC letter to accepted students, engaging with students who are alumnus of the same high school or high schools in the area and identifying students with high potential in high school for a “High Potential HS Student Program.”
The team is chaired by Denise Fleming director PwC and comprised of Boyle, Ph.D.; Mary Haveron, accounting consultant; Patrick Haveron, executive vice president at Maiden Holdings, Inc.; Ed Steinmetz, CPA; Tom Valvano, partner Grant Thornton; and Joe Walsh, partner PwC.
The CPA exam is the ultimate certification of public accountants. Passing all three sections requires a grueling 150 credit hours (in most states) and countless hours of study. Upon completion, professionals who pass the exam experience greater diversification in career opportunities, the respect of peers, job security and more opportunities for career development.
The University has consistently been recognized as one of the top schools for preparing graduates for the exam, and ADPAC will make a concerted effort to maintain and surpass the program’s current level of excellence. For recent accounting graduates, many full-time positions do not start until September or October of that year. ADPAC seeks to help students take advantage of this downtime by offering a Becker CPA study program in which students will be able to stay on campus after graduation to take the Becker class and prepare for the exam.
Leading the initiative to maintain a top CPA state pass rate will be chair Jeff Bharkda, director PwC; James Boyle, CPA; and Jay Shepulski, partner Withum.
Beta Alpha Psi is a prestigious honor society that seeks to encourage and give recognition to scholastic and professional excellence in the business information field. Beta Alpha Psi was founded in 1919 and is an honor organization for financial information students and professionals. There are more than 300 chapters with over 300,000 members of Beta Alpha Psi. The University brought a chapter to campus and has been working diligently over the last two years to provide students with the opportunities that precipitate from membership. Last spring, Beta Alpha Psi’s Tim Harding represented the group at the Redefining Investment Strategy and Education (RISE) conference. ADPAC will work to secure a chapter of Beta Alpha Psi to ensure that opportunities to grow in financial knowledge and literacy are presented to students in the future.
The team is comprised of chair Stepahnie Mihal, manager McGrail, Merkel, Quinn and Associates P.C.; Daniel Mahoney, Ph.D.; James Boyle, CPA; Brian Carpenter, Ph.D.; Russell Sapienza, principal PwC; and Christopher O’Hara, partner PwC.
The tasks undertaken by ADPAC are the first of many initiatives undertaken by The University’s accounting department to remain on top in an increasingly competitive job market.
The list above is not all-inclusive and there are many other objectives of ADPAC that all have their dedicated team of faculty and alumni working hard behind the scenes to provide students with opportunities.
The ultimate goal of a good education is not to open one perfect door, but rather to open many doors so the students have enough options to discern which one is the perfect fit for them. It is clear that students who exhibit the same dedication and passion as The University’s faculty and alumni will have many opportunities open upon graduation and beyond.