Oct. 24, 2007
By Katie Taybus
The new Ohio Center for Professional Accountancy, the first academic and business alliance for accounting in Ohio, will provide a venue for accounting faculty, students and professionals to network and share information on leading trends in the accounting industry.
"The real benefit of the center is the increasing interaction between people who are teaching about accounting, learning about accounting, and practicing accounting," said Ray Stephens, professor of accountancy and director of OCPA.
The announcement of the ten founding sponsors, who have pledged to donate a total of $125,000 over the next five years, was made at a meeting of the School of Accountancy Advisory Council. The 33 members of the SOA Advisory Council include alumni and others who assist the director and faculty in moving the school forward.
"Providing financial resources to the school is only part of it. We will also give the school, and also the students, the opportunity to consult with our professionals on leading areas in accounting," said advisory board member Mike Fritz of Deloitte & Touche. "The center can then provide our firm more of an understanding of what similar clients are doing in the accounting area."
Fritz said he believes the benefits will go both ways. For example, OCPA will offer research activities to expand faculty knowledge, continuing education for professional accountants and increased student interaction with alumni and CPAs.
The center -- established by the Ohio University Board of Trustees in September -- will transform the informal communication that has long existed among professionals, students and faculty into a formalized structure to enhance networking.
"Placement of students after their undergraduate years is one of our major focuses," Stephens said. "This will provide another avenue to increase communication between students and actual accountants to help with their search for continual education and opportunities." At least half of the founding sponsor companies employ Ohio University graduates, a trend Stephens hopes will become more common with the new center.
Starting winter quarter, students also can take advantage of "visiting professional days," when companies send representatives of the firm to speak with accounting classes and hold career workshops for students.
Sponsors of OCPA get access to faculty publications, continuing educational materials by faculty and networking opportunities. Although the firms all have offices in Ohio, this is not a requirement to be a sponsor. In addition to Deloitte & Touche, founding sponsors include PricewaterhouseCoopers; Ernst & Young; Rea & Associates; Cohen & Co.; Crowe, Chizek, and Co.; KPMG; Jones, Cochenour & Co.; Clark, Schaefer, Hackett & Co.; and GBQ Partners.