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The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line
Nearly 70 high school students from six states attended Scranton’s first Future Accountants Leadership Conference on campus. The conference included an interactive experience with members of the Kania School of Management’s faculty, the Accounting Department Professional Alumni Council (ADPAC) and students from the Business Leadership Honors Program and Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting honor society.

The members of the Accounting Department Professional Alumni Council (ADPAC) are alumni extraordinarily committed to the University, the department and, most importantly, its students. The ADPAC’s mission is to prepare students to achieve their fullest potential and to be “stand outs” in the accounting profession. The council’s members ensure that students have direct access to professionals in the real world. 

“Mentoring is a key component of the ADPAC agenda,” said Larry Lynch ’81, chair of the Board of Trustees and member of the council. “It’s all about getting to know the students and offering them our best advice, advice based on years of professional experience.”

adpac groupWhether it is through recruitment efforts, mentorship, practical learning experiences, scholarship opportunities, research projects or grants, the council members are helping the Accounting Department grow and thrive. 

Involving Alumni

“We’ve always had a great program,” said Douglas Boyle, D.B.A., CPA, CMA ’88, who heads the department and, relying on his 25 years of professional experience, formed the council about two years ago. He added, “The environment, however, has become much more competitive and complex. We knew we could do better, and do more, and that we could grow our enrollment, quality and brand.”

Historically, faculty drove most of the Accounting Department’s activities. This was successful in the past, but in order to “improve and meet the needs of an increasingly challenging environment, we needed to engage the hearts and minds of our distinguished alumni,” said Dr. Boyle. “These alumni serve at the highest levels of the profession and are best positioned to help us recruit, mentor and transform our students.”

There could have been friction about alumni being invited to participate in what had, until now, been the purview of the faculty. The forming of the ADPAC meant that council members were doing everything from consulting on curriculum to advising on the successful launch of new programs, such as the Master of Accountancy (MAcc). Instead, the faculty members appreciated and welcomed the practical insight of alumni who are out in the world, applying research and hiring newly trained accountants. 

Charles Lenns, Esq. ’75 is a vice president at Consolidated Edison Company of New York and an adjunct faculty member in the department. “The council contains the best of all worlds: our talented and experienced faculty members who best know our students, and our successful alumni in the business community who have achieved success and have much to offer to our students to help them understand what it takes to achieve success in today’s business world,” he said.

Daniel Mahoney, Ph.D. ’81, G ’85, a professor in the department, said that these alumni ensure that the faculty and students do not get stuck in the academia bubble. “Our alumni provide students with useful insight into the accounting profession and the ways in which it is always changing,” he said.

Starting Up

The first ADPAC meeting was held in May 2014. Later that year, the University’s accounting program was ranked among the top 25 in the nation on U.S News & World Report’s business specialty list. 

In the past two years, deposits for students pursuing an accounting major increased by 57 percent.

“The ADPAC helped us to achieve this growth,” said Dr. Boyle. “The council members come to our Open Houses, write letters to high-potential students and interact with prospective students and their parents. In addition, they’ve been tremendous with helping us place our students in the world’s most attractive firms.” For example, all of the “Big Four” international accounting firms now recruit on campus and have hired many University students.

mcgowanShannon McKenna, a junior, was recently selected for an internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Linda McGowan ’80, a partner at PwC, who has a long history of mentoring accounting students at Scranton, offered her advice. “Linda is always willing and available to help,” said McKenna.

It is no surprise that this highly successful and committed group of business executives is focused on results.

“There’s a bottom-line return on investment process here, increasing opportunities for our students. In this case, it is the focus and it drives us,” said Rob Grasso ’98, partner at Deloitte and chair of the council. “The focus of the ADPAC wasn’t, ‘How do we change the program?’ It was, ‘Where do we need improvement?’ and ‘How do we continue to build the program?’ And, in the meantime, we’re all willing to help at a moment’s notice.”

Reaching Out 

Reaching out to prospective students is a key goal of the ADPAC. The Accounting Department and the ADPAC worked with Admissions to identify high-achieving students interested in accounting who had expressed interest in the University. In addition, faculty and ADPAC members visited targeted high schools to discuss the University’s programs. 

In November 2015, many council members, current honor students and faculty showed up on campus to talk to top prospective students (and their parents) for the Future Accountants Leadership Conference (FAL-Con), organized by Dr. Boyle’s business leadership consulting class. At the end of the day, approximately 70 students representing 59 high schools and six states were recognized. Each conference attendee accepted at the University will be offered an additional $1,000 scholarship.

McGowan said that it is this personal attention at events such as FAL-Con, this “showing up,” that makes the University’s Accounting Department unique. “In this environment, where a lot of institutions are seeing declining enrollment, you have to be proactive in getting more than your fair share of the best students,” said McGowan.

According to several students who attended this year’s FAL-Con, the ADPAC’s efforts paid off. One such student is Linda Ortega, a senior at Lehigh Valley Academy in Bethlehem. “By attending this conference, I was not only able to develop my knowledge in accounting, but also get a view of how the students and faculty work here at Scranton,” she said. “It really just made me want to come here more.”

A Common Bond 

The ADPAC includes alumni in both the public and private sector, as well as faculty members and administrators. They come from competing firms, industries and diverse set of companies. On the council, they are divided into smaller teams, which are based on interests and experience, to work on specific initiatives and goals. Overall, however, they all have at least one thing in common. 

aldcowski

“It’s a unanimous feeling and consensus among the ADPAC that the success that we’ve experienced in our individual careers is highly attributable to the quality of education, training and values that the University and the Jesuit program instilled within us,” said Joseph Aldcowski ’78, a partner at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause.

Both of Aldcowski’s children chose to major in accounting at Scranton, so giving his time to the University — and to the Accounting Department in particular — is important to him, something he “needs and relishes.” He is deeply committed to helping the Accounting Department and its students succeed. 

“I have a bias toward public accounting,” said Aldcowski. “But I often tell my children, ‘Wherever the path of life takes you, whether public accounting, private accounting or elsewhere in the business world, you will always be well- served by the high quality education you received from The University of Scranton’s accounting program.’” 

 

Accounting Department Professional Alumni Council (ADPAC) Mission
Under the direction of our accounting faculty, the ADPAC provides practice insights and support to ensure that our students are fully prepared to achieve their fullest potential within the profession. This may be accomplished through innovative practical learning experiences, one-on-one student mentoring relationships, professional networking, scholarship opportunities, and/or the kinds of relevant skill development that focus on what is currently needed to be a “stand out” within the profession.  In addition, the ADPAC will collaborate with the Accounting Department to support its ongoing objective of being recognized as a leader in creating and disseminating relevant applied research to the profession.  This latter objective may be achieved through collaboration on research projects, co-author opportunities, grants, and/or endowed research chair positions.
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