News and notes from the Accounting program @ Fairfield

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Journal Entries

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August 25, 2015

Fairfield’s Master of Science in Accounting program was included in the Top 5 AACSB accredited programs in New England by The Accounting Path, an information website for student’s interested in accounting careers. With the program’s small class sizes, the article recognizes Fairfield as a University that allows close relationships with professors and classmates, prepares students for success on the CPA exam, and targets the “Big 4 employers” for graduates.

Fairfield’s Master of Science in Accounting program is a full-time program that allows student to finish their MSA in one year, with time off to take portions of the CPA exam, or intern in public accounting.

Summer 2015

Dear Friends:

Welcome to the second issue of the Fairfield University Accounting Department electronic newsletter. In our inaugural issue, we asked you to help us name our newsletter. Thank you to everyone who submitted suggestions. A committee comprised of the Associate Dean and Marketing Professor (Dr. Mark Ligas), Department Chair (Dr. Joan Lee) and Graduate Coordinator (Dr. Dawn Massey), and two alumni (Jenna Allegretto ’11, MSA ’12 and Greg Burke ‘12) chose the winning entry. Congratulations to Patrick Leeber ’86, who submitted the name Journal Entries, which will henceforth be the name of our electronic newsletter.

Besides bragging rights, Patrick also won a $50 gift certificate to the University Bookstore. Interestingly, Patrick also submitted the correct answer to our first Trivia Contest question (details below, after the Chair’s Corner and Coordinator’s Column), but his classmate, Debra Alberti ’86, was the first to submit. Patrick did explain that he knew the name of the Accounting Professor in the photo we posted because he had seen the original full photo, which included his uncle, Victor Leeber, S.J., then a young Jesuit.

The other “big” news for us to share this year is that in fall 2014 LinkedIn ranked Fairfield University as the seventh best school in the country for accounting professionals! LinkedIn’s methodology was particularly noteworthy because the company focused on employment outcomes and standardized the data so that smaller schools like Fairfield were on equal footing with larger schools that graduate hundreds of accounting majors each year. The LinkedIn ranking is yet another reason to be proud to be associated with Fairfield U!

We are glad you are here and hope you will read on and enjoy.

The Accounting Department Faculty

 

 

Chair’s Corner

A Message from the Chair

vanhise

Dr. Joan Lee, CPA

And the award goes to…. I’m happy to share the news that several members of the Accounting faculty were honored with awards since our last update. In May 2014, Dr. Michael Coyne was awarded the DSB 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award. The award is based on student nominations of their professors. As Dean Gibson noted during the award presentation, Dr. Coyne’s students praised his commitment to his students. In June 2014, Dr. Dawn Massey received the Connecticut Society of CPAs’ Educator of Excellence (“Eddy”) Award for a Four-year college/University Professor for excellence in teaching and mentoring. This award also was based on student nominations. Dr. Massey was noted to be “genuine, welcoming and helpful” in a student nomination. And the streak continued into July 2014 when I was privileged to receive the Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. Award from the Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education (CJBE) for my service to CJBE as Board President, Board member and Editor of Journal of Jesuit Business Education.  But the department wasn’t finished gathering accolades. In April 2015, Prof. Jo Ann Drusbosky was awarded the DSB 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award. That’s two in a row for the Accounting Department! And Dr. Michael Coyne followed up his 2014 teaching award by winning the 2015 Advisor of the Year Award for his work with the Accounting Club. The award was presented as part of the Annual Student Leadership Awards ceremony and is “presented to and recognizes a club or organization advisor whose outstanding service and contributions to the club or organization and Fairfield University exceeds the expectations given to advisors.”

Not surprisingly, in light of the noted excellence of our professors, our enrollments in the Accounting Department continue at historic highs. In fact, as shown in the chart below, we are approaching a new all-time high in the number of accounting majors.

 2015 Accounting Chart

What accounts for the apparent popularity of the accounting major? It seems clear that the students value the quality of the accounting faculty who teach them, as well as the accessibility of all the professors in the department. In addition, Fairfield, and especially the DSB, is growing! We now regularly welcome incoming classes of about 1,000 students, almost 400 of whom choose the DSB! As a result, the department offered 15 sections of AC 11 in Fall 2014. It is likely that the outstanding ratings accorded to the DSB and the Accounting department (discussed elsewhere in this newsletter), also contribute to our burgeoning enrollments.

As many of our graduates know, our current accounting students are required to complete 150 credit hours in order to earn certification as a CPA. Many of our students choose to stay at Fairfield for a 5th year to complete our MSA. (More about the MSA program is included in Dr. Massey’s letter.) Some students, who enter with a significant number of credits of AP and college courses, are able to complete the 150 hours in 4 years of undergraduate study. Recently, we have formalized a new option for some of our best students, which allows them to complete both a BS in Accounting and the MSA in 4 years. Students in the “3+1” program complete their undergraduate degree in 3 years, and study for the MSA as part of our MSA cohort in their 4th year at Fairfield. While this ambitious program is not right for everyone, the students in this program are among our most highly motivated students. Go to the student spotlight below to learn more about this program from a student in it – Kristen Torres.

To our current students – thank you for choosing to major (or minor) in accounting. It is a privilege to work with you to help you achieve your goals.

To our alumni – we miss you! Please reach out to us and let us know how you are doing. And our current students would love to hear from you about the “real world” beyond the Fairfield bubble.

To our external stakeholders – we appreciate all you do in partnership with us. Please let us what you need from us to grow and strengthen our partnerships to the benefit of our students.

To our prospective students – we would be happy to talk to you about Fairfield’s accounting department. Please reach out to us with your questions.

I look forward to hearing from all of you.

 Joan Lee

Coordinator’s Column

News from the Coordinator, Graduate Accounting Programs

Dr. Dawn MasseyAccountingDSB

Dr. Dawn W. Massey, CPA

Greetings from Fairfield! In the last issue of our departmental newsletter, I shared a brief history and overview of our MSA program since its inception. In this issue, I would like to share information regarding the continuing success of our MSA program.

The program remains popular, with the number of MSA graduates recognized in 2014 and 2015 hovering at 47 students. Congratulations to our 2015 graduates – most of whom are pictured below:

Class of 2015

Indeed, the popularity of our program was borne out this year by the fact that we reached our limit of students for the MSA class of 2016 prior to Christmas 2014! And, although our 2016 MSA class just began coursework (the day after Commencement, as is our tradition), we already have received a number of enrollment cards for our MSA class of 2017.

In light of the program’s popularity, I thought I might take time this year to discuss one of the program’s distinguishing features – namely, the support MSA students receive to help them complete their CPA exams while pursuing their degree. As many of you know, we group our courses in a way that helps students to focus on different parts of the exam at different times. And, we schedule the program with built in breaks that provide students with concentrated periods during which they can prepare for and take exam parts while they are in the MSA program. Dr. Peck and I also coordinate scheduling with a CPA exam review provider so that review courses are available to the students – right on campus – just when the students are ready to focus on the various exam parts.

So what does all of this mean for students in our MSA? Well, for many, it means getting the CPA exam done and out of the way prior to beginning one’s full-time career. For example, the MSA graduating class of 2014 is the most recent class for which we have statistics. In that class, 71% of those who sat for one or more CPA exam parts by August 31, 2014 reported passing at least one part. And, of them, 60% reported that they had passed three or even all four parts! When you consider that the national pass rates for each individual section of the CPA exam are in the vicinity of 50%, the strength of our program in preparing students for the exam becomes obvious.

In fact, just recently and out of the blue, I received an email from some former MSAs, who were recalling their graduation day in 2013 (Nick Tandoi’12, MSA ’13; Joel Rubino ’12, MSA ’13; Dan Sauter ’12; MSA ‘13 and Ryan Doheny ’12; MSA ‘13 – all pictured with me below, from left to right). Not surprisingly, all four have the CPA Exam behind them.

Dawn and hte boys

Looking ahead to the future, we hope to continue refining the program to improve it. And, we are counting on you – our students, alumni and friends – to help us do so by giving us your suggestions for improvement. As always, I’m just an email away: dmassey@fairfield.edu.

Dawn

Trivia Contest – Do You Know?

Last time, we took you back to our department’s very beginning at Fairfield, which stretches all the way to the University’s start. For Trivia Question #1, we wondered the identity of the pictured accounting professor (one of only four laymen) that was one of the initial fifteen faculty members in Fairfield’s inaugural year (1947-48).

 

Trivia

Debra Alberti ‘86, was the first person to name Mr. John F. Cody. Congratulations, Debra!

In addition to identifying Mr. Cody, Debra shared her family’s rich history with Fairfield University. Her father attended Fairfield Prep from 1954–1959 and her brother followed from 1975–1979. Debra’s mother, Catherine, worked at Fairfield University from 1980 to May 2014. Debra and her sister (Karen ‘89) were both accounting majors at Fairfield University. While a student, Debra had one of the original Fairfield University 1947 faculty members, Victor Leeber, S.J., as her Spanish teacher. Coincidentally, Victor Leeber, S.J. is the uncle of Patrick Leeber ‘86, Debra’s classmate who suggested the winning name of our Newsletter (see above). Fairfield’s network is certainly is one of our treasures. Let’s see if we can’t find out more from members of our network with the answer to our second trivia question:

Trivia Question #2: This time, we’ve located a picture of a current Fairfield faculty member who served as president of his university’s Accounting Club. Do you know the identity of the faculty member pictured below and the name of the school at which he was president of the Accounting Club? (Note: The winning submission will be the first to correctly identify both the professor and his alma mater.)

2015 Trivia question

 

Student Spotlight

In this issue of our newsletter we’d like to highlight the accomplishments of an accounting student who is pursing the “3+1” program in order to amass her 150 hours of education in 4 years – Kristen Torres ‘15.

First, a little background. The “3+1” program is open only to highly motivated, high-achieving high school students planning on majoring in Accounting. Students apply as incoming freshmen or after completing their first semester at Fairfield. Acceptance to the “3+1” Program is selective, but allows students to complete the 150 credits required for certification as a CPA in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and many other jurisdictions within four years instead of the usual five (or more). Students in the “3+1” program complete their undergraduate studies in three years and their MSA studies in the fourth year.

Q: How and why did you decide to pursue the “3+1” program?

A: Overall, I chose to do my undergrad in 3 years and my Master’s my 4th after Dr. Lee described the program at an admitted student’s day. I was interested in the program because I was used to having a heavy workload and I like to challenge myself.

Q: What was it like accelerating your studies?

A: Starting spring semester freshman year I was taking 6 classes each semester, plus I had to take 2 summer courses. The biggest struggle from a course work standpoint was taking Intermediate II and Cost Accounting at the same time because they are both challenging, but after that it was much easier. Because your friends become such a big part of your time at Fairfield, I did miss having core classes with them since I was a year ahead curriculum wise, but that was the only time I noticed a difference.

Q: Did pursuing the “3+1” program impact your ability to get an internship?

A: I did an internship with Ernst & Young LLP the summer after my junior [2nd] year and I have another internship at PwC in the winter of my MSA. Being in the MSA now, a year earlier than the rest of the class of 2016, it is a relief knowing there is just one more year of schooling left instead of two. Finishing early allows me to begin my career earlier, exposing me to all of the opportunities the field has to offer sooner.

Q: What about “senior week” and other activities – did you miss out?

A: I will still participate in senior week with the class of 2016 [my starting class] and I’m still going to be living with my 3 best friends [in my 4th year]. I will walk in both the undergraduate and the graduate graduation ceremonies in May of 2016. I was still able to be active on campus and was a leader in multiple clubs as well as co-chair of Hunger Cleanup.

Q: Given your experiences, would you recommend the “3+1” program?

A: For anyone who is looking to challenge themselves or just get ahead in the game I would recommend completing the program and earning 150 credits in 4 years instead of 5. To a recruiter, it shows that you have a good work ethic as you are willing to take on extra work, challenge yourself, and manage your time wisely.

Alumni Accolades

Karen Z.

In this issue of our “newsletter,” we’d like to focus on Julie Ziegler Farris ’84.

After graduation, Julie initially worked in public accounting in Stamford, Connecticut – first at Deloitte (in audit and in tax) for 3 ½ years and then at KPMG (in tax) for another 2 ½ years. After that, she transitioned to industry, joining IBM Credit Corporation as a Senior Tax Specialist in April 1990. Over the years, she has held a variety of manager roles throughout IBM, including in: International Tax Operations, Federal Tax Operations, and International Income Tax Operations. Julie now serves as IBM’s Manager of Transfer Pricing Operations, and has been in her current position for the past 6 years, based in Armonk, NY. Congratulations Julie on a successful career! We asked Julie to reflect back on her time at Fairfield and the advice she would offer to current students.

Q: How did your Fairfield education benefit your career?

A: The Accounting program at Fairfield University is highly regarded by both public accounting firms (Big Eight at the time) and corporations, Each of the public accounting firms visited Fairfield U in the fall of our senior year and I was fortunate to be granted interviews with each of them in addition to being granted interviews with a few area corporations. While the interview process was stressful (being my first exposure to professionals in the accounting field), it did end up being a fun experience when we were invited for the day to visit the accounting firms to meet people close to our age that were working at the firms. They even took us out to nice restaurants for lunch! By the time November of my senior year rolled around, I had a few offers in hand. I accepted the offer from Deloitte, Haskins & Sells in its audit practice and my interview stress was over. I have been working in the tax field ever since – 30 years! I worked in public accounting for 6 years and then moved over to IBM where I am coming up on 25 years. I would say my Fairfield University education gave me 100% of the opportunity that allowed me to be where I am now.

Q: What is your favorite Fairfield Memory?

A: I have many great memories of Fairfield. While I know for sure I did a lot of studying, that is not what jumps out first when I recall my fond memories at Fairfield. While I enjoyed all my years there, I would say my senior year was my best year. I lived in the Townhouses with a great group of girls that I still keep in touch with…..we really had a great time together. In fact, the whole Townhouse community was a tight-knit, social group and we spent a lot of time hanging out. I also worked for the Food Service and in the Stag-Her Inn, so met a lot of people through that. I think the social aspects of Fairfield are what I would say are my favorite memories. This year we had our 30th reunion and stayed for the weekend in the Townhouses. Although the years have passed, it was like yesterday sitting around, recalling old times. The only thing is that most of us now we all have kids in their 20’s to talk about!

Q: What is your favorite Accounting Memory?

A: The Accounting major program was rigorous so it required a lot of hard work. My greatest challenge was Intermediate Accounting, the determining class for those questioning whether to pursue the Accounting major. Fortunately, I succeeded! That was a major accomplishment! I was so happy! The class that I liked the least as an Accounting major was my Corporate Income Tax class which I took my senior year. I did not understand it nor did like it at all. Ironically, my career has been in the Corporate Income Tax field for over 25 years. Sounds boring, but I find it quite challenging and interesting. With all the new legislation and controversy, there is never a dull moment. Very dynamic. Combine that with a company like IBM in which the business is evolving and ever changing, it has made 25 years go by in a flash. So, I guess you can say is that my favorite Accounting memories were my successes.

Q: What advice do you have for current students?

A: The first thing students need to understand it that in order to succeed, you need have self-motivation, drive, and a strong work ethic. You need to listen, be patient, ask questions, and have a strong desire to understand and solve issues. You cannot expect success to drop in your lap. It will come as your reward. However, there is also a social aspect to working – knowing how to understand and deal with people. The Fairfield U experience helped with this as well. One of the hardest things in the workforce is the people you work with – your up-line management, your staff and your clients. Everyone has his/her own personality and you need to separately know how to handle each one.

Is there a graduate you’d like us to highlight in a future issue? If so, please send an email to let us know.

Faculty Focus: Kathi Mettler

In the Blog’s first issue, Dr. Rebeca Bloch was highlighted as the newest full-time accounting faculty. This time, we are highlighting Professor Kathi Mettler.

Kathi Mettler

Professor Mettler is in her fifth year teaching at Fairfield University. She has 24 years professional experience in Big 4 Public Accounting and one year in Industry experience in Federal and International tax planning and consulting. Most recently, Prof. Mettler worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), where she led the Women’s Networking Circles group to foster collaboration and women in leadership positions, and also served as the National Director of the International Tax Services’ Learning and Education. Prof. Mettler holds a Master of Science in Taxation from The University of Alabama and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Birmingham-Southern College. She is a Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Prof.Mettler is a frequent speaker on international tax topics, and serves as the Treasurer for the Westchester/Connecticut International Fiscal Association (“IFA”) organization.

Off-campus, Prof. Mettler enjoys participating in community service activities (via the Junior League and PTA) and playing golf with her three children and husband. The Mettler family lives in Fairfield, CT.

If you have questions, please contact Professor Mettler, kmettler@fairfield.edu.