Accounting ProfessorsIn other news stories we have highlighted the Department of Accounting and Information Systems’ efforts at achieving excellence in the research and service components of Michigan State University’s mission. In this story we focus on what many would argue is the primary mission of the University – advancing knowledge and transforming lives through educating a broad range of people. We have a strong tradition of teaching excellence, and if you are a Spartan alumni, you have experienced this commitment to education firsthand. For all others, here’s some evidence.

Teaching Awards 

One way to demonstrate teaching excellence is to simply list the many teaching awards that our current faculty has earned.

External Awards

American Accounting Association

Outstanding Accounting Educator Award – Bill McCarthy

Innovation in Accounting Education Award – Bill McCarthy

Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Tax Educator – Ed Outslay

American Taxation Association Teaching Innovation Award – Ed Outslay

Strategic and Emerging Technologies Section Outstanding Educator Award – Sev Grabski, Bill McCarthy

Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants

Accounting Educator of the Year Award – Charlie Bokemeier

Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Award – Steve Dilley, Ed Outslay


Internal Awards

Michigan State University

Distinguished Faculty Award – Sue Haka, Bill McCarthy, Ed Outslay, Kathy Petroni

Teacher-Scholar Award – Steve Dilley, Sue Haka, Ranjani Krishnan, Ed Outslay, Kathy Petroni, Cheri Speier

MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan Quality in Undergraduate Teaching – Kathy Petroni

Senior Class Council Distinguished Faculty Award – Ed Outslay

Broad College of Business

Withrow Teacher-Scholar Award – Bill McCarthy, Ed Outslay, Kathy Petroni, V. Sambamurthy

Withrow Emerging Scholar Award – Ranjani Krishnan, Joan Luft, Karen Sedatole

Outstanding First Year MBA Professor – Kathy Petroni

Weekend MBA Faculty Excellence Award – Charlie Bokemeier

Executive MBA Professor of Excellence Award – Sanjay Gupta, Kathy Petroni

Department of Accounting

Faculty Excellence in Teaching (faculty committee selection) – Joe Anthony, Charlie Bokemeier, Steve Dilley, Sue Haka, Ranjani Krishnan, Joan Luft, Bill McCarthy, Ed Outslay, Kathy Petroni, Cheri Speier

Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher (student vote) – Joe Anthony, Charlie Bokemeier, Steve Dilley, Lori Jackson

Outstanding MS Program Teacher (student vote) – Bill McCarthy, Ed Outslay, Kathy Petroni

These awards are not easily won; there is strict competition. Yet for many of these awards, the Accounting and Information Systems faculty have earned a disproportionate share. As an example, department faculty represent 16% of the total faculty in the Broad College but have won 31% of the college-level awards.


The Public Accounting Report Ranking

National rankings from organizations like the US News and World Report are based on quantifiable criteria that have little to do with teaching effectiveness. This is because it’s virtually impossible to develop measures of departmental teaching that facilitate comparisons across universities. However, the Public Accounting Report, bases its rankings on the responses of accounting faculty and administrators to the question, “Which programs consistently turn out students capable of some day attaining partner status?” The responses and the resulting rankings, therefore, produce rankings that are at least indirectly related to the quality of teaching, and this year, the PAR Report ranked the department’s undergraduate program 9th overall, 6th among public universities, and the MS program was ranked 11th overall and 8th among public universities.

Does it Matter?

Effective teaching is important no matter how many students reap the benefits. But when you are the state’s largest producer of CPA’s, the responsibility for training and preparing these future professionals becomes even more significant.  The following numbers suggest that the quality of our teaching makes a big difference-  for the profession, the business community, and beyond.

First, consider our bread and butter, our accounting students:

  • 500 junior/senior accounting majors
  • 176 accounting MS students

Next, students in our introductory accounting courses:

  • 1,900 students in ACC 201 – financial accounting for business majors
  • 1,500 students in ACC 202 – managerial accounting for business majors
  • 760 students in ACC 230 – financial/managerial accounting for non-business majors

And finally, we teach five different accounting courses to 240 MBA students.

These numbers highlight the importance of providing a quality educational experience. We continually hear stories of the success of our many graduates and the positive impact they are making in the business community.  We also have active and committed alumni who support the department and our students.  These all reflect the quality of their MSU education in which we are proud to play a significant role.


As important as the WAY we teach is WHAT we teach. In the past few years, the department has extensively reviewed its undergraduate and MS curricula and has undertaken several important initiatives to insure continued quality.

International Accounting and Global Awareness

The department has made significant efforts to increase undergraduate and graduate student global awareness and engagement. With the help of a grant from PricewaterhouseCoopers, we have been developing cases, exercises, and projects to integrate international financial reporting standards (IFRS) broadly across the undergrad curriculum. We’ve added specialized topics in the MS courses, with an increased emphasis on ACC 844, the international accounting course; it has grown from one to three sections.

To supplement this increased international accounting emphasis, we launched our first study abroad course, Accounting & Financial Reporting in the Global Economy. The course begins with on-campus sessions covering various topics related to international accounting, business, and taxation. Students then embark on a two-week trip to Argentina and Chile. They visit with leaders in businesses, government, and NGOs, attend presentations by executives, and tour plant and physical facilities.

Undergraduate Course Coordination

The department offers many sections of intermediate financial accounting taught by a diverse set of tenure- and non-tenure-track faculty. Our new faculty coordinator provides guidance to instructors, ensuring that content and exams are consistent, and monitors assessment of learning activities. The result is a consistent, high quality student learning experience across the sections.

Spreadsheet Skills

In response to suggestions that our students have improved spreadsheet skills, we added a comprehensive training module in the introductory management accounting course.

Also, we examined our upper level courses to assure students receive additional experience that furthers these skills.

Communication Skills

In addition to the Ernst and Young Accounting Communication Center, the department added a new course to the MS curriculum, Communication Leadership Skills in Organizations, to bolster development of communication and leadership skills. The course is taken by most MS students, with three sections offered each year.

Online Education

We’ve made significant curriculum and pedagogical improvements in the education we provide to non-accounting students. The accounting survey course, taken by over 850 non-business majors, is offered online and has higher enrollments than the classroom sections. This flexibility for students is gained without sacrifice to their educational experience; data demonstrates no significant difference in learning outcomes between the online and traditional sections.

Information Technology Management and Entrepreneurship

Looking ahead, two curriculum initiatives are being designed to help revitalize Michigan’s economy. First, the department is further developing the Information Technology Management (ITM) specialization, focusing on the capstone course in which student teams work on actual projects from local businesses and nonprofits. Second, we’re designing a course for the Broad Institute for Entrepreneurship that will combine accounting, tax, and systems issues essential for starting new ventures.

About Our Students

Ultimately, the teaching effectiveness of our faculty is measured by our students’ achievements. Of course their success is not all our doing—we work with outstanding individuals who enter our program with a GPA of 3.4 or more and graduate with an average GPA of 3.57. They work hard and fast, with average time-to-degree of 3.9 years vs. 4.3 for all MSU students. But arguably, we have played an important role in the scholarships and honors that our students have received in recent years.

Individual Achievements:

  • MSU students received 31 MACPA scholarships—more than any other university in the state.
  • Two grads received the AICPA Elijah Watt Sells Award, presented to the ten candidates earning the highest cumulative scores on the four sections of the CPA exam.
  • One grad earned the highest college student score on the 2009 IMA exam.
  • Four MS grads were selected for FASB and GASB internships.
  • This year, two grads received the MSU Board of Trustees Award presented to seniors with the highest cumulative GPA.

Group Achievements:

  • Our NABA chapter received an MSU Outstanding Academic Organization Awards.
  • Our student organizations were selected as winners in the PricewaterhouseCooper Project Make [it] Count Program.
  • Our student team won 1st place in the ’09 Deloitte National Case Study Competition and participated at the national level this year.

Finally, placement statistics indicate employers think highly of our students. Approximately 60% of undergrad graduates enter graduate programs. Remaining grads find employment in public accounting, corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. About 90% of MS students take jobs with public accounting firms; the remaining students work for corporations and government agencies. This year, three students begin PhD programs at Big Ten universities.

A Final Comment

We hope this article demonstrates the vital importance our faculty place on teaching. As a group, we take our responsibility of educating the next generation of accounting and systems professionals very seriously and strive to discharge that responsibility with enthusiasm, caring, and creativity. Although we are heartened that this commitment and dedication is validated with the remarkable number of awards we have received, we remain acutely aware of the imperative to continuously improve in what and how we teach, to innovate our curriculum, and to critically self-assess our and our students’ performance. Thus, despite our past successes, we will not rest on our laurels. The competition for bright students is intense. We cherish the opportunity to educate the bright minds we attract to our programs and pledge to prepare them for the future.