Grant to Support Retention of Minorities in Accounting

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

OSWEGO — The SUNY Oswego School of Business will use a $10,000 grant from the charitable arm of Big Four accounting firm PwC to help boost recruitment and retention of minority students in the accounting program.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, now known publicly as PwC, recently awarded a 2011 PwC INQuires Grant to create a “Triangle of Support” for minorities in accounting, provided by faculty, outstanding students and alumni professionals.

Professor Charles Spector, chair of SUNY Oswego’s accounting, finance and law department, submitted the grant proposal. He expressed delight at its success.

“There has been a lack of minority students in accounting over the years,” Spector said. “We’re really happy about this.”

Support structure

The grant proposal outlines in basic terms the support structure Spector said he intends to create with the assistance of Catherine Santos, associate provost for multicultural opportunities and programs, and Andrea Zielinski, visiting assistant professor of accounting.

“Students will be assigned a faculty adviser, Mentor 1, upon arriving at college,” the proposal reads, “but through the Office of Alumni Affairs we will assign alumni mentors, Mentor 2, who will take an active role in career awareness. … Benefits might include job shadowing, resume critiquing, mock interviewing, networking and possibly internships.”

The third mentor will come from among fifth-year graduate accounting majors who are members of Beta Alpha Psi, the honor society for accounting and finance students. Those “Mentor 3” academic coaches will act as role models as they participate in the employment recruiting process.

The school’s Center for Accounting Research and Education will sponsor the program and assess the results.

Spector said alumni support of the accounting program has been generous and frequent, with prominent SUNY Oswego alums like Robert Moritz (’85), U.S. chairman and senior partner of PwC, taking lead roles, along with a wealth of public accounting alumni regionally and around the state.

Recruitment efforts

Area accounting alumni have actively supported minority-recruitment efforts on behalf of the School of Business. With the support of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, the school last year launched the Career Opportunities in Accounting Program. Running June 27 to 29 this year, COAP is a residential program at SUNY Oswego designed to help high school juniors learn more about business and the accounting profession.

While not limited to minorities, the project is to show promising minority students that accounting, “the language of business,” is wide open to them. Spector said he recently learned a student from last year’s inaugural COAP will enroll this fall at SUNY Oswego in the accounting program.

“Last year, we had 25 students at COAP,” Spector said. “This year, we’re hoping for 35 or so.”

The School of Business and its accounting program also will continue recruitment efforts in the New York City area and in Syracuse city schools.

Meanwhile, efforts will get under way this summer for a program, now supported by the PwC grant, to help keep minority students on track to graduate and enter the accounting profession. Preliminary plans for fall include a Meet the Accountants program, introduction to the school’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, visits to area plants and work with faculty, student and alumni mentors.