What a terrific issue (September 2017)! There were so many thoughtful and relevant articles related to accounting education that it was hard to narrow down which ones to respond to.
Kenton B. Walker’s article (“What’s Going On in Business Schools? Part II,” http://bit.ly/2gRiK40) provided an excellent discussion of the stresses placed on the stakeholders involved in accounting education (i.e., the institution, faculty, students, and employers). My ideal faculty member would—
- possess a PhD;
- be a CPA;
- have recent and continuing professional accounting experience; and
- be an articulate and engaging teacher.
Unfortunately, few candidates possess all of these attributes. The article correctly points out that the PhD has often become the definitive standard for tenure-track faculty with the other items secondary. I believe that the PhD should not be the de facto standard. Accounting is a profession, and accounting education involves educating and training students for a career in the profession. How can someone properly provide the necessary depth of education without hands-on experience? How can one describe and discuss how the material is used and adapted in practice, as well as discuss in what detail the material is worth remembering?
Of course, experience is not eternal; it must be maintained. Faculty must stay up-to-date with what is happening in the profession. I encourage my faculty to continue the practice of accounting, and I provide a schedule for faculty that aids in accomplishing this.
Nicholas J. Mastracchio Jr.’s article (“A Positive Look at Accounting Education,” http://bit.ly/2x8QyQr) provided an interesting look at distinguishing between different types of accounting programs (e.g., AACSB, high-research, very-high–research) based on CPA exam pass rates. This is certainly one legitimate way to distinguish between institutional focus.
There seem to be two directions an accounting program can take: teach to the exam or teach to the profession. I am sure there are programs that offer a hybrid between the two, but I find it useful to think of this as binary. My focus at Iona College is to teach to the profession. It is certainly important that our students pass the CPA exam in relatively short order, but since the move from a twice-a-year exam to more frequent testing dates, there is no pressure to pass all parts at once.
Our criterion for how well we are doing is not CPA pass rates, but employer acceptance of our students. As long as our graduates stay in demand by CPA firms and industry, we feel that we are on the right path.
Jeffry Haber, PhD, CPA. Professor and chair, accounting Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y.