Changes in undergraduate accounting program upset some

At the beginning of this semester, the School of Business informed accounting majors that it would no longer offer Advanced Financial Accountancy, a class that is a pre-requisite for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination.

Senior Kyle Adanti and several upperclassmen oppose this change. They have said that forbidding the class for undergraduates is a move by the College to pressure students into enrolling for a fifth year in the Masters in Accounting program. The College has maintained that it is limited faculty and impending state legislation that have prompted the decision, not a desire to strong-arm students.

In 2004, the New York State Legislature approved a new law requiring that any person taking the CPA exam must have 150 credit hours and an accounting major from an accredited college or university. However, the legislation does not come into effect until Aug. 31, 2009, meaning that a person can still usually take the exam with only 120 credit hours. But to take the CPA exam, a student must have certain classes on their transcript as well. One of those classes is Advanced Financial Accountancy, the class which has now been placed off-limits to undergraduates.

Dr. Harry Howe, coordinator of accounting in the School of Business, said that there were many factors in the decision to move Advanced Financial Accountancy from the undergraduate program to the Masters program. "We have an outstanding program, without a doubt one of the best in Western New York, but we are still a state school. We would offer a section of Advanced Financial Accountancy every semester, if not for our limited resources." Howe also explained that a summer session of the course was advertised to students, but was dependent on 15 or more students expressing interest. Since only seven students signed up, the summer program was ultimately scrapped.

Many underclassmen accounting majors are satisfied by the College's position in this matter. "I plan on going the for the five-year program," said freshman Tessa Kettrick, "because by the time I graduate the new law will be in effect anyway. And I'm glad the College is trying to conserve professors' time. I'm an accounting major and I can't even overload into most accounting classes because they're so packed."

Despite the College's explanations, many juniors and seniors remain dissatisfied. Adanti is quick to point out what he sees as flaws in Howe's reasoning. "Dr. Howe claims we do not have enough faculty, which is I believe is true. But everything is limited in part because most of the faculty must teach at the graduate level and undergraduate level."

In fact, undergraduate students report that there are currently only about five graduate students in the Masters in Accounting program at Geneseo. This is also part of the problem, said Adanti. "All else aside, they could have let undergraduate accounting majors into the graduate-level Advanced Accounting. It would hardly be an issue considering there were only five students in that class." He added, however, that "this is not a bashing of Dean Zuckerman, Assistant Dean Howard, Harry Howe, or any other accounting professor. I respect them all, and overall, am very pleased with the entire School of Business."

Still, despite the protests of 20 or so seniors like Adanti, the School of Business has remained firm on its stance so far. Now a small group of accounting majors drives 35 miles to St. John Fisher every Monday to take a night session of Advanced Financial Accountancy.