The Columns

Accounting Faculty and Students Represent W&L in U.S. and Denmark

— by on September 18th, 2017

This year, members of the accounting department and accounting students brought the W&L experience to conferences in both the U.S. and Denmark.

Professor Megan HessProfessor Megan Hess

The Business of Teaching Workshop at the Copenhagen Business School invited Megan Hess ’97, assistant professor of accounting, to present at the meeting. This student-focused conference brings together teams from European and American business schools and liberal arts colleges and invites them to collaborate and explore how to bring humanities into the business school classroom.

Matthew Rickert ’18 and Hermione Wang ’18, students also attending the workshop, discussed their experiences in Dr. Hess’ newly designed course called, “The Art & Science of Auditing: A Liberal Arts Approach.” The course draws on both technical standards and the humanities to teach students the key auditing concepts of risk, control, materiality, and evidence. Using resources such as books, movies and interviews to motivate discussion, the course balances both the art and science of auditing in a way that is more memorable and engaging than traditional teaching methods.

“I found the conference to be incredible insight on how much planning professors put into their classes. Being there showed me that there are so many multi-disciplinary business problems that people have yet to tackle. Professors who attended the conference were exploring ideas with innovative approaches that were more realistic and applicable beyond the classroom,” said Wang.

“The opportunity to pursue knowledge as a full-time job is incredibly rare,” explained Rickert. “To be given the opportunity to spend a week with people from around the U.S. and Europe, discussing that pursuit and actively searching for new ways to learn was incredible.”

The organizers of the American Taxation Association’s (ATA) Mid-Year Meeting in Phoenix invited Hess to present an award-winning case she had written with Raquel Alexander, formerly associate dean of the Williams School. The two presented “Brewing Up Controversy: A Case Exploring the Ethics of Corporate Tax Planning,” which explores the ethical issues surrounding the corporate tax-planning and tax-avoidance strategies of multinational organizations.

In early August, a several members of the Accounting faculty headed for California where the American Accounting Association (AAA) held its 2017 Annual Meeting in San Diego. Hess presented a paper she has been working on titled, “The Consequences of Accounting Failure for Innovation: A Multi-Level Analysis.”

Professor Stephan Fafatas

Like Hess, Stephan Fafatas, Lawrence Associate Term Professor of Accounting, shared his research results and teaching innovations with colleagues from across the country. As the new vice-president of communications of the Academy of Accounting Historians (AAH), he helped organize their August workshop. He also made a presentation, “Using Historical Accounting Records in Undergraduate Classes,” which focused in part on how to engage students with accounting history in the classroom. Fafatas, who continues to use resources from W&L’s Special Collections for both class projects and his research, showed some interesting images he has gathered from local business records during his talk.

Fafatas also attended the Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA with Andrew Kim ’18 and Claire Meyers ’18, accounting majors and current BAP officers. The conference brings together over 1,000 students, faculty and professionals and is ripe with networking opportunities as well as exhibitors with information on master’s programs and CPA materials.

“What I enjoyed most about attending the BAP conference was the opportunity to meet with and learn from students and advisors from other chapters all over the country,” said Meyers. “Our chapter here at W&L is so new, and I think we were able to bring back a lot of helpful information for the school year.”

“The opportunity to participate in the professional meeting environment was rewarding for students,” said Fafatas. “They were able to network, attend breakout sessions and hear from professionals in the field.”

The BAP meeting also provided attendees with a rewarding volunteer opportunity in collaboration with the Orange County United Way and the nonprofit organization First Book. The group visited local organizations in undeserved neighborhoods to distribute books and teach children the importance of literacy. The program provided each child with a brand-new book of their own. Since 2013, Beta Alpha Psi has given out nearly 16,000 books during their Community Service Day event.