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Incoming AAA President Karen Pincus on AAA Ohio riverboat cruise.

On Friday (day 2 of the AAA Ohio Annual Conference), incoming American Accounting Association (AAA) president Karen Pincus addressed all in attendance.  She reviewed the evolution of the AAA over the past 50 years, and announced the theme for her 12 month presidency.

Pincus is the author of Core Concepts of Accounting Information course materials for introductory accounting, published by McGraw-Hill.  In the early to mid 1990s it was very popular in the United States as accounting programs sought to make first year accounting more relevant and effective, moving to a user orientation from a preparer orientation.  I remember using it at BGSU.  It had a positive and meaningful impact on my teaching approach.

Pincus holds the S. Robson Walton Chair of Accounting in the Sam Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. She has prior teaching experience at U Maryland and U Southern California.

In May 2006, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AIPCA) awarded Pincus the 2006 Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award. Later in 2006, she was named to the Accounting Today Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting.

Pincus started her speech by showing the changing nature of AAA membership over the past 50 years. Figure One (Pincus) shows a 20% decline in AAA total membership with a concurrent change in composition from 32%  to 82% professors.

Figure One. Changing Composition of AAA Membership

She said that this has led to a change in the AAA’s activities. Professors desire more meetings (to present papers), sections with a narrower research focus, and journals in which to publish their research.

Pincus then compared the current mix of activities (meetings, sections and journals) to those of other business disciplines: Academy of Management, American Economic Association, American Finance Association and the American Marketing Association. Accounting holds 1/6 of business faculty, yet has three times as many meetings as the other associations combined. The AAA also has more journals, and a much larger web site than the other associations. She said that the AAA is more successful of meeting needs of professors than its sister organizations.

Pincus then turned to the AAA logo, in which the AAA claims its members to be thought leaders in accounting.

She said that we are thought leaders only to ourselves. We aren’t thought leaders in tax, or in accounting/auditing.

She then moved on changes in AAA governance. She said that the Council has become a real governance body. It will now perform the following tasks:

  1. Populate all the AAA awards committees.
  2. Choose all candidates for one board position annually (total of 3 board seats in steady state) and continue to choose majority of Nominating Committee members for other board positions.
  3. Provide input on strategic planning initiatives.
  4. Review/approve advocacy positions in name of AAA.
She is especially excited about AAA’s ability now to make comments advocating one or another position.

Greg Waymire, the current AAA president, has had as his theme, Seeds of Innovation. He is responding to the established lack of diversity and innovation in research. Pincus says that his presidency addresses a significant problem area, “There is a fine line between rigor and rigor mortis.”

Pincus concluded by announcing the theme for next year is Brilliantly Disguised Opportunities.” She adds,

It was inspired by a quote (attributed to various speakers) that “all of life’s best opportunities come brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” Next year’s annual meeting in Anaheim will include sessions about the major changes and challenges facing colleges and universities and how they might be turned into opportunities.

She reminded us to think of today’s problems as opportunities in disguise.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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Lycoming College is a small liberal arts college of 1,400 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  It has published an online game that is designed to teach students about what is plagiarism.

Called Gobin Threat, it is an entertaining way for students to learn what is plagiarisms and how to avoid it.  The game takes no special skills or knowledge.

It is appropriate for undergraduate students, and I will require astudents to view it prior to writing term papers for me.

Link to Goblin Threat Plagiarism Game

The Goblin Threat game was created by Mary Broussard with assistance on question writing from Jessica Urich.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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The American Accounting Association is the professional organization for accounting professors.  It is divided into seven regions (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Ohio, Southwest and Western).

The primary activity of each region is to hold an annual conference.  My home region, Ohio, recently (May 10-12) held its annual conference in Covington, Kentucky, which is part of the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area.  The 2012 conference was the culmination of region president Wally Wood (U Cincinnati) and program chair Akhilesh Chandra (U Akron).

Wood and Chandra deserve a ton of credit for planning and guiding a terrific conference.  If only the other regions had a conference as nice as Ohio’s.

Thursday, the first day of the conference, started out slowly for me.  I-75 road construction in northern Cincinnati led my GPS to redirect me through six miles of side streets.  Consequently, I arrived 20 minutes late.  Veteran AAA staffers Dee S and Debbie G recognized me and were able to quickly complete the paperwork so I could start my conference day.

Dee and Debbie greet us at every AAA conference

The afternoon is devoted to two CPE (Continuing Professional Education) sessions.  A tour of a local brewery is led by David Stott, BGSU.  A session on positive applied psychology is led by Marsha Huber (Youngstown SU).  The workshop I was to conduct has been cancelled for low attendance.  I attended the Huber workshop and was introduced to her world of applied psychology.  She has been studying and researching several areas that are unfamiliar to most accounting professors, however they have great relevance for both professional practice and accounting education.  She taught about resilience, emotion, growth, game playing and influence in informal organizational networks.  Although psychology causes me to break out in hives, I’ve offered to come on board and help write one of her papers.

John and Allie from McGraw-Hill

During breaks we head into the exhibitor’s hall for snacks and hot drinks.  I like chatting with publishers representatives who show us books to consider using in our courses.  At the right are John and Allie of McGraw-Hill.  John told me that being a publishers representative was the next best job to being a professor.

From 4 pm until 10 pm, the main social activities took place.  First, we all stood around and chatted at the welcome reception held in the hotel main lobby.  Then we took a steamboat tour on the Ohio River.   As the following collage shows, this time we sat around talking.  And eating.  My primary job at the dinner was to take photos.

Tomorrow is a very busy day.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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Andrew Martin and Andrew W. Lehren write “A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College,” a story in today’s New York Times.  It is a sobering, yet fascinating read.  The topic is relevant for all Americans, not just families, and employers, of today’s college students=.  It leads me to call for an end the 150 semester hour educational requirement to sit for the CPA exam. 

The educational debt bubble seems positioned for a loud and messy pop.

Accrued student loan debt is over $1 trillion USD.  Large numbers (60-80%) of students graduate with a bachelors degree and holding $20,000-$40,000 of student loan debt.  If a student pursues a graduate degree, debt soars quickly because colleges have cut much of their financial assistance for graduate education.  Total student debt exceeds credit card and other consumer debt.

I see the impact of this debt on a daily basis.  My accounting students during college  struggle with the emotional impact of accumulating so much debt.  It is normal for students to have two or three part time jobs, which adversely impacts their ability to study and learn.  Many opt for getting required education (150 semester hours to qualify for CPA) at the less expensive undergraduate level instead of pursuing a more expensive masters degree that would provide more educational benefit.  At Concordia College, over 90% of graduates leave college with over $30,000 in debt.  For a typical American college student, adding a MAcc or MBA would likely add $30,000-60,000 to the personal debt level.

To a large extent, the problem today exists because society no longer wishes to shoulder the burden of providing collegiate educations to its citizens.  State legislators have cut massive amounts of aid to public colleges.  Colleges and universities have responded with increased prices and decreases in scholarships and aid.  It is unlikely that even outstanding students today will receive adequate financial assistance for graduate school.

Yet, educating one citizen benefits all of society.  Providing the capable with a college education increases the productivity and wealth of us all.

What needs to be done to fix the problem? It would be nice if the USA was wealthier.  It would be nice if the USA was not crippled by an overwhelming and debilitating national debt of its own.  But the USA is not as wealthy as it once was, and it is facing a national debt which it may be forced to default on in the intermediate future.

We need to scale back educational requirements for the CPA.  Historical analyses show the push for the 150 hour requirement came mostly from collegiate accounting programs.  For sure it was self-serving.  Requiring accounting students to enroll and pay for more classes keeps highly paid accounting professors employed.  There is some benefit from a masters education in accounting, but the USA can’t afford it, anymore.  I call on fellow accounting professors to initiate the effort to rescind the 150 hour requirement.

It is customary for accounting firms and corporate employers to skimp with low salaries for entry level positions.  Another potential fix for mitigating the problem would be for employers to help shoulder principal payments debt.  It would be more palatable if these payments were tax deductible.

But other than these two potential solutions, there are no cheap or agreeable fixes.  Any solution will require large amounts of real money, and that money is already allocated for other purposes.

What do you think?  Do you have a solution?  Please leave a comment.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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It is end of semester time across the country.  For a lucky few professors, finals ended early and tests/papers are already graded.  For the rest of us, pain awaits.

At this time of year, there are two types of professors.  The first type uses multiple choice questions on tests.  The grading process is easy:  take a pile of scantron sheets to the data center, leave them, go to coffee shop and read paper, return to data center to pick up summary sheet with each student’s grade.   They laugh at the second type of professor (of which I am a charter member).

The other type of professor wouldn’t be caught dead using multiple choice tests, because they believe multiple choice tests actually work against learning.  These professors have essay tests, problem tests, projects and term papers.  This is where the grading problem starts.

Students are tired by the end of a semester.  Occasionally one turns off his/her brain during week six.  However, by week 15, the din of flicking switches to the off position has reached a deafening crescendo.

In this blog  post, I’m pasting a few cartoons by Jorge Cham, Ph.D.  He has been drawing cartoons depicting the grad school experience for nearly two decades.  His cartoons are copyrighted, but may be used by bloggers if they provide attribution and a link back to his site.  His extensive archive of comics can be found at PhDComics.com.

The first cartoon I’m showing captures one aspect of grading–the assigning of partial credit.  The theory goes that surely a student who has sat in class after class has picked up something, so should be due some sort of partial credit for the partial understanding in his/her brain.  Right.

I don’t assign negative points, but there are times when I’ve been tempted.

The second cartoon shows the instructor’s frustration after grading many tests, all of which required assignment of partial credit.  The joy, the relief, of a good answer truly lifts the soul.  Several times I’ve graded my own answer sheet! After a while they all look the same.

The third and final cartoon shows the instructor’s mental pain when depression sets in.  You doubt this?  Don’t.

Jorge Cham, Ph.D., has a terrific sense of humor.  You can sign up for e-mail alerts that arrive every time he draws another cartoon.  You can also buy products, such as t-shirts, books and the PhD Movie.  http://phdcomics.com

Happy finals!

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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I came to Concordia College in the fall of 2009.  It now is time to move on.

Coming to Concordia College for this three year period is one of the highlights of my life.  Three years ago, I needed a break from the large state university environment, because I felt broken from numerous political battles (see explanatory note at bottom).  Concordia offered a safe haven, a respite from the battles of a faster (but not better) track.  Not being completely foolish, I jumped at the chance.

Concordia College is devoted to the academic, social and cultural education of its students.  At this point in my career, student education and development are so predominant on my professional priority list, anything else has difficulty edging in.  So this part of the job has been a match.

So, why am I moving on?  My family and long-time friends are in Ohio.  Moving closer to the area is necessary for my personal health and happiness.  Also, I believe I better can explore the potential of becoming a social media savvy accounting professor in an increasingly small and social world.

About 99% of what I will miss are the students.  Some are brilliant, some aren’t.  But generally they are good and conscientious.  At Concordia there is a culture of studying that a majority embrace.  But more than studying for the sake of earning their grades, Concordia students are on a mission to prepare themselves for life.  And for many, the purpose of that life will be to help make the world a better place for others.  I admire and respect the people that come to Concordia as students.  Many are terrific human beings.  It has been an honor and privilege to teach them.

What has been a new experience for me is how closely I’ve come to know some of the students.  A majority of my students have taken two or three courses from me.  In very small classes with close interaction, developing personal relationships becomes an integral part of the learning-teaching process.  There are many to whom I can say, “I like you as a person.”    Some professors love their students, and I will miss Concordia’s in my heart.

I’m gratified that the relationships have been two way.  It has made many a day to receive a smile upon meeting, or a lingering pause upon parting.  Many of my students have said, “I hope you won’t forget us (me).”  Not a chance.

Ron Twedt teaching a class.

I’ll also miss the colleagues with whom I have the closest ties.  I don’t share lunch, and cookies, with just anyone.  Ron, Maggie, Jim L, Bruce V, Shawn, Oksana, Al, Bruce A, and Dan, I’ll miss you the most.

I leave Concordia a much richer person than when I arrived.  I bid you all a fond farewell.


Note: Woodrow Wilson was president of Princeton College prior to entering state and national government service as governor of New Jersey and President of the United States.  When asked why he would leave the ivy tower, he is reputed to have said that he did it to take a break from the intense politics of academia.


Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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On Thursday at lunch with fellow professors at Concordia (journalism and accounting), the topic turned to whether an aspiring business journalism should study journalism or business.  I asked if the journalism curriculum included a study of famous or popular journalists.

The journalism prof responded, “No, we just teach students to write.”

My first thought was to wonder if that is reasonable.  Shouldn’t a study of great journalists be an essential component of any aspiring journalist’s education? The benefit, I suppose, would be to provide examples of journalists for students to pattern themselves after.

My second though was to wonder if I am like this journalism prof.  Am I limited to teaching students how to account?  Or do I hold up great accountants for students to learn from?  Great accountants can serve as role models.

(more…)

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