News and notes from the Accounting program @ Fairfield


A match made in Accounting!

Wedding Photo 6-13-15

Rob Morton ’08 (MSA ’09) and Shelby (Mayor) ’09 (MSA ’10) tied the knot on Saturday, 6/13/15.


Welcome Letter 

June 2014

Dear Friends:

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Fairfield University Accounting Department newsletter! With our newsletters, we hope to provide a little “taste of home” for our alumni, some insight into what makes our department so special for our external stakeholders and prospective students, as well as news of upcoming events for our current accounting majors and minors. In this inaugural issue, we have an important task for our readers:  we would like you to help us name our newsletter (see below for details on our naming contest).

In every issue, you will find the following sections (click on the links under BLOG TOPICS to read the corresponding article):

The winner will be announced in a subsequent issue.

  •  Student Spotlight – Meet some of our excellent students
  •  Alumni Accolades – Stay up-to-date with our accounting alumni’s recent achievements
  • Faculty Focus – Learn about our faculty’s accomplishments in and outside the classroom

We welcome you to check back often, as departmental news and upcoming events will be posted from time to time under the “News” tag. In addition, please feel free to email any of the Accounting Faculty directly to ask any questions or to just drop us a line to let us know what you think of our newsletter.

We look forward to connecting (or re-connecting) with you!

The Accounting Department Faculty


Chair’s Corner

A Message from the Chair


Dr. Joan L. Van Hise, CPA

It’s an exciting time in the Accounting Department: our total enrollments are at historic highs, and we welcomed a new faculty member in the Fall of 2013.   Dr. Massey tells you about the growth in the MSA program in her Coordinator’s Column , so I’ll focus here on the growth in the undergraduate program.

As the chart below shows, we have had more than 230 accounting majors for five straight years.

Number of accounting majors

This is a significant change from the “good old days” when we NEVER reached even 200 accounting majors.  What accounts for this change?  We like to think that there are a number of factors.  First, we know that students value the quality of the accounting faculty who teach them, as well as the accessibility of all the professors in the department.  If you stroll through the DSB on a weekend, you’re likely to run into several members of the accounting faculty who have come in to offer a special tutoring session, meet with students who couldn’t make regular office hours – or supervise a session of Full Contact Monopoly!  Another factor that draws students to the major is the camaraderie among the accounting students.  Any students who have survived “Intermediate Accounting” know that you don’t conquer that course alone!  And perhaps the job market in accounting has a little to do with it as well.  The public accounting firms are practically tripping over each other to reach our best students. So who wouldn’t want to be an accounting major?  You get the opportunity to take classes with great faculty, learn alongside great students, and get a great job when you’re finished!  And you get the opportunity to stay up all night working on unsolvable problem sets – who wouldn’t want to be an accounting major?

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 world beyond our Fairfield campus.

To our external stakeholders – we appreciate all you do in partnership with us. Please let us know what you need from us to grow and strengthen our relationships 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.


Coordinator’s Column

Learn about the Accounting Department’s Graduate Programs

Dr. Dawn MasseyAccountingDSB

Dr. Dawn W. Massey, CPA

Greetings from Fairfield! In this inaugural issue of our departmental newsletter, I’d like to provide a brief history and overview of our MSA program since its inception.

It’s hard for me to believe, but the MSA program became a twinkle in the eye of the accounting department just over a decade ago (i.e., in the 2002-03 academic year). At that time, Dr. Roselie McDevitt (then Chair, now an Emeritus Professor) championed creation of the program through a departmental Curriculum Committee. The departmental Curriculum Committee, which met weekly for about a year, included Dr. Bruce Bradford (then Chair of the Committee), Dr. Paul Caster, Dr. McDevitt, Dr. Milo Peck, and Dr. Joan Van Hise. After extensive vetting, the MSA program was devised and gained approvals from numerous groups within the University (e.g., from the Accounting Department; the DSB Graduate Curriculum Committee and faculty; and the university-wide Educational Planning Committee and Academic Council) and, ultimately, the State of Connecticut.

Dr. Caster, then Director, Graduate Accounting Programs, recruited the first MSA class (11 students), which entered in 2006 (and graduated in 2007). Early in 2006-07, Dr. Caster stepped down as Director and his duties were split between me (I was Chair of the Accounting Department at the time) and Dr. Dana Wilkie (former Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Programs in DSB). The administrative structure persisted for three years, during which time MSA enrollments held fairly steady.

After my initial term as Department Chair ended in 2009, I moved into my current role as Coordinator, Graduate Accounting Programs (and Dr. Van Hise then became Chair of the Accounting Department). Thereafter, MSA enrollments grew to a point where the number of graduates recognized at the May 2011 commencement ceremony (24) was double the year before! In May 2012, the number of graduates climbed again to 37 and in May 2013, the number was 42. By May 2014, we expect the number to be 49. A chart depicting these numbers appears below.

MSA grads recognized annually

So, it seems, the sky is the limit! Well, no, not really. We are holding the line on MSA enrollments to ensure we maintain quality. Students in the Fairfield MSA program benefit from a caring and hands-on faculty that help them achieve each of the three “Es” necessary for CPA certification: Education, Exam, and Experience.

Of course we provide students with a top-notch Jesuit education, culminating in a Master’s degree. But what makes Fairfield’s MSA different is our focus on providing students with a solid background in both technical and “soft” skills. Further, our careful and strategic course scheduling facilitates students’ efforts at passing the Exam while in the MSA program. Many of our students are able to complete 2, 3 or even all 4 parts of the CPA Exam during their MSA year, freeing them of the burden of studying for those parts of the Exam while working full-time. And, together with Career Planning, we work closely with each MSA student to fine-tune his/her resume, prepare for interviews and connect with employers (mainly the Big 4) so that our students can land that first full-time accounting job. Since I began as Coordinator, I have worked tirelessly to place each student in a paying, busy-season internship or full-time position. Really. The students fill out index cards that I keep on my desk. Those index cards stare me in the face every single day until the last student gets a job. It’s my personal mission: “No student goes unplaced on my watch!” (Thankfully, our students are pretty great, so achieving my mission has been relatively painless.)

Well, there you have it: A brief review of our MSA program since its inception. As we look to the future, I hope to see the program continue to flourish. And, to help us, please feel free to drop a line to share your thoughts for improving the program or to just say “hi.” I always appreciate receiving emails from alumni and friends and look forward to hearing from you!


Name Our Newsletter


What should we call our newsletter?

We’ve seen others with names like Accounting Matters, By All Accounts and Footnotes.  If you have a good idea, submit it by August 1, 2014. A committee comprised of the Associate Dean and Marketing Professor (Dean Ligas), Department Chair (Prof. Van Hise) and Graduate Coordinator (Prof. Massey), and two alumni will decide on the winning entry.

Besides bragging rights, the winner will get a $50 gift certificate to the University Bookstore.

Good luck!

Trivia Contest – Do You Know?

Test your knowledge about our department

In this first edition of we take you back to our department’s very beginning at Fairfield, which stretches all the way to the University’s start.


In Fairfield’s inaugural year (1947-1948), there were fifteen faculty members, only four of whom were laymen. Just one (a layman) was an accounting professor (hint: he is pictured below). Do you know his name?


If so, submit your answer! The first person to submit a correct entry will be recognized in the next edition of the newsletter, where we will also publish the answer to this issue’s “Do you know?” question and pose a new one.

Good luck!

Student Spotlight

Our accounting majors not only are great students, but also take part in any number of activities. Some involve themselves in departmental clubs, such as the Accounting Club and Beta Alpha Psi. Others attend conferences and participate in competitions, including the IMA Conference, Challenge (PwC’s case competition), FanTAXtic (Deloitte’s tax competition), and Fairfield’s Business Plan Competition. Many undertake service learning and internship experiences. It’s no wonder accolades are often bestowed on our students!

Winning trade

In this issue of our newsletter we’d like to highlight the accomplishments of accounting students in the first two Business Plan Competitions, which began in 2012. In each year, an accounting student was integral to the winning idea.

Through the competition, students are given the opportunity to develop their business ideas into a reality.  With the help of a mentor and some ingenuity, Fairfield students present their business plans to a panel of judges in hopes of coming out a winner. In the inaugural competition, Frank Serravalli (’13, MSA ’14) pitched the victorious plan for “ My Winning Trade,” a web-based trading game that allows its users to create a track record of trading performance that prints on a single page. Intended users of the trading game are undergraduate and graduate students looking to get into the investment banking industry. After garnering the win (and $10,000 in prize money), Frank was able to put his business plan into action. He and his partner (and sister), Christina Serravalli (’15), now manage an up and running trading platform at


In the second annual Business Plan Competition (in 2013), Bernardo Navarro (’14) served on the winning team with 3 senior engineering majors: Elizabeth Cortez (mechanical engineering), Nicole Stark (mechanical engineering) and Stephanie Cruz (software engineering). Their prizewinning plan was for “SenseFit,” a health/fitness monitor. “SenseFit” is worn on the wrist and uses small, wireless sensors to measure heart rate, pulse, oxygen, and muscle activity. It transfers data via Bluetooth technology and a smart phone application.  In 2014, Accounting students continued their winning streak. In the Venture Track, accounting major Gina Biondi (’14) was part of the winning team for “VentureOut.” “VentureOut”, a mobile application, is a social utility used for meeting new people in unfamiliar cities. Likewise, in the Social Track, Bernardo Navarro (’14) returned to claim the top honor for “BoneSmart”, a wearable, wireless, non-invasive medical device that will measure bone mineral density and blood flow through bone, with fellow accounting major, Ralph Belfiore (’14), and three other students. Photos of the 2014 winning teams appear below.                                                



The students attribute much of their success to their background in accounting. For example, according to Frank, accounting allows a student to “understand a business from front to back, know the details and understand what a trading system requires.” Bernardo adds, “An accounting background absolutely made a difference in the Business Plan Competition and in all entrepreneurship endeavors as it gives one a strong insight into the viability of a business idea.”

Planning is underway for the 2015 Business Plan Competition already! We encourage any interested Accounting Students to attend the Kick Off in September to learn more. For details, contact Patricia Pivarnik.

Alumni Accolades

Accounting Department graduates have done some pretty amazing things. Many hold top positions in public accounting firms and corporations. Some not only do well, but also good. A number of them garner honors and awards. In short, our Accounting Alumni are an impressive bunch!

Alumni AccoladesIn this issue of our “newsletter,” we’d like to focus on Larry Dunn (‘00), the first Fairfield Accounting Student to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. After graduation, Larry studied international accounting practices in London at the International Accounting Standards Committee. Upon his return to the U.S. in 2001, Larry began as an auditor at Ernst and Young, where he has successfully moved up the ranks and will become a partner, effective July 1, 2014 (Congratulations Larry!). We asked Larry to share some tidbits for this newsletter.

Q: How did your Fairfield education benefit your career?

A: Our people are pedigree. Fairfield offers students a mix between great experiences and education. The ability to take the core classes like philosophy teaches you to think critically which is important in the real world.

Q: What is your favorite Fairfield Memory?

A: It’s tough to pick just one. I would have to say that the best memory was being able to build a community for four years, with programs like student government, glee club, and lectors. It is hard to leave a group of people and community that you were a part of for so long.

Q: What is your favorite Accounting Memory?

A: My favorite accounting memory would have to be the accomplishment of being offered a job before I even graduated. Not many students in other fields have that sense of security. Accounting students work very hard for four years and it definitely pays off in the end.

Q: What advice do you have for current students?

A: Don’t restrict yourself. Students with strict plans and goals need to accept that life throws you curve balls and you need to be able to accept them.

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: Dr. Rebecca Bloch

In Fairfield’s inaugural year, there was one full-time accounting faculty member (for more insight, read Trivia Contest: Do you know? under BLOG TOPICS). As of May, 2013, there were ten:

  • Dr. Bruce Bradford, CPA, Associate Professor of Accounting
  • Dr. Paul Caster, CPA, Professor of Accounting
  • Dr. Michael Coyne, CPA, Associate Professor of Accounting
  • Prof.  Jo Ann Drusbosky, CPA, Professor of the Practice
  • Dr. Ahmed Ebrahim, CPA, CMA, Associate Professor of Accounting
  • Dr. Dawn Massey, CPA, Professor of Accounting (and Coordinator, Graduate Accounting Programs)
  • Prof. Kathi Mettler, CPA, Professor of the Practice
  • Dr. Milo Peck, CPA, JD, Assistant Professor of Accounting
  • Dr. Patricia Poli, CPA, Associate Professor of Accounting
  • Dr. Joan Van Hise, CPA, Professor of Accounting (and Chair, Accounting Department)

Combined, the above ten faculty members have served the Fairfield University community for almost 130 years! But, owing to growth in enrollments (for more insight, click on Chair’s Corner and/or Coordinator’s Column under BLOG TOPICS), the Accounting Department recently expanded to eleven full-time faculty members when, in September 2013, Dr. Rebecca Bloch, CPA joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Accounting.bloch

Dr. Bloch comes to Fairfield from Rutgers University, where she earned her Ph.D. in Accounting. Her research interests are in the areas of municipal accounting and accounting for not-for-profits. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Dr. Bloch worked for over 10 years in the public and private sectors. She held auditing positions with JH Cohn and Ernst & Young as well as accounting positions with the Council on Foreign Relations and Downey Studios. This year, Dr. Bloch was assigned to teach Introduction to Financial Accounting and Introduction to Managerial Accounting.

Off-campus, Dr. Bloch enjoys singing and spending time with her husband, Sol, a music teacher, and their three young children. The Bloch family lives in New York.

If you have questions for Dr. Bloch, contact her.

Welcome, Dr. Bloch!