School of Accounting Florida International University Strategic Plan

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1 School of Accounting Florida International University Strategic Plan As Florida International University implements its Worlds Ahead strategic plan, the School of Accounting (SOA) will pursue corresponding initiatives through refocused mission and goals. In collaboration with our advisory board, our faculty, staff and with the input of our students, we will focus in areas of strength, most notably delivering a curriculum based on competencies established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, with the goal of preparing every graduate for certification. Underlying our curriculum are themes of globalization, professional ethics and technological proficiency. Our commitment to globalization is especially meaningful as the US transitions toward International Financial Reporting Standards. The University and college are planning for significant growth, and we must ensure that SOA achieves growth through a framework of excellence in our programs, faculty and staff. We will achieve excellence in programs through a continued focus on public accounting. We will achieve excellence in research through a strengthened emphasis on faculty development leading to premier and UT- Dallas levels of research. We will achieve excellence in teaching through continued training and innovative course design. Our staff will offer excellence through more intensive advising and student support services. Background The former Accounting Department attained separate AACSB accreditation as the School of Accounting in Because most of its students sit for the Uniform CPA Examination, its programs are structured to meet the requirements of the Florida State Board of Public Accountancy as to the type, mix and number of credit hours provided. In Florida, candidates for the Uniform CPA examination are required to earn a bachelor s degree from an accredited college or university and complete an additional 30 semester hours. Within the 150 hours, a candidate must complete a minimum of 36 hours of accounting above the principles level and 39 hours of general business, including 6 hours of business law. Admission to the SOA is currently at two levels transfer from a community college or a four- year college with an Associate of Arts (AA) degree and a 3.0 GPA, or promotion from FIU s lower division. In either case, there is a seven- course pre- core requirement that must be completed with a 3.0 GPA before any student is permitted to start upper division courses in the general business core or in the accounting major. In addition, the SOA administers an entrance examination as a prerequisite to ACG 4101, Intermediate Accounting I. The exam was established in cooperation with and input from the local community colleges and is designed to improve student retention and achievement in that course. Students entering the MACC or EMST must have an undergraduate accounting degree or equivalent. The MACC program is an accelerated value- added program that meets Saturdays, 2 courses per mini- semester, and is completed in 10 months. The EMST, also a value- added program, meets on Saturdays only, does not meet during tax busy- seasons, and requires 12 months to complete. Adopted March 2012, Page 1 of 8

2 Our External Environment: Challenges and Opportunities The College of Business Administration (CBA) engages in regular and on- going strategic planning processes to assure that changing needs in the field are monitored and translated into programs and curricula. The processes incorporate inputs from internal and external constituencies, and the strategic plan is updated annually. The SOA process is similar to the CBA process. The 21 st Century Business Environment Expansion of Accounting Skill Set with Information Technology: Accountants need to know how to use sophisticated information systems and how to provide assurance on data integrity. SOA Challenge: To prepare graduates with functional and technical knowledge relating to financial reporting and organizational information systems. Client Relationship Management: Firms are conceiving and implementing business development plans. Effective client relationship management skills are becoming increasingly important. SOA Challenge: To prepare graduates with strong interpersonal and organizational skills. Increasing Regulation of the Accounting Profession: Accountants adhere to standards of conduct promulgated by professional associations and legislatures. Accounting service providers have segmented their businesses in response to independence issues. Accounting principles and standards are increasingly complex and the US is transitioning toward an internationally developed set of standards. SOA Challenge: To prepare accountants who have a broad understanding of the regulatory environment and the ability to apply IFRS. International Demand for Accounting Skills: Developing economies need stable and transparent financial reporting. These needs have resulted in increasing demands for accounting education by international students in the United States and a demand for US educators to deliver programs overseas. SOA Challenge: To provide programs to serve international markets. The South Florida Business Environment Interaction with the Profession: We work in collaboration with the profession to modify curriculum, to develop professional skills of our students, and to place our graduates. The number of firms that seek on- campus involvement and faculty interaction exceeds the number of our average peer institutions. SOA Challenge: To effectively manage the high number of external relationships. The Business Education Environment: The 150 Hour Rule: The State of Florida has strict CPA licensure requirements. SOA Challenge: To provide educational programs that meet the educational requirements of the State of Florida Board of Professional Regulation for students of varying educational backgrounds. The School of Accounting s Environment: Challenges and Opportunities Adopted March 2012, Page 2 of 8

3 Our Students: Many of our students are either immigrants or first- generation residents. Over 60 percent of our students are Hispanic. A large percentage of our students are employed. Strong family ties and cultural influences cause most of our students to remain in the South Florida area after graduation. SOA Challenge: To provide opportunities for our students to learn about national and international career options. External Development Opportunities for Students: Given the demand for accounting graduates, especially minority candidates, and employer interest in developing well- rounded candidates, firms sponsor case competitions, development programs and other activities for our students. SOA Challenge: To effectively support development enhancement programs for our students. Accounting Faculty Shortages: Nationwide, there is a severe shortage of academically qualified accounting faculty. While FIU is able to offer competitive salaries for new faculty, the cost of housing in South Florida is much higher than most of the country. SOA Challenge: To successfully recruit and retain academically qualified faculty. The Resource Environment: Resources for Research: Accounting research requires expensive databases or relies on time- consuming data collection. SOA Challenge: To continue to secure financial support for research activities. Scholarship Funding: A large proportion of our students receive financial aid for undergraduate programs. Most existing financial aid funds do not extend to graduate education. SOA Challenge: To secure scholarship funding. Advantages Faculty Composition: The SOA faculty is diverse on many dimensions. It is comprised of research faculty members who continually publish premier journal articles, engage in research workshops, and are actively engaged in reviewing their colleagues work through editorial board assignments. The SOA also has faculty who actively serve the profession. Faculty share teaching resources and strategies, collaborate on research projects, and cooperate on committees that accomplish the work of the SOA. Self- Generated Resources: The SOA generates significant revenue from its value- added MACC and EMST programs. Environmental factors, specifically the Florida Board of Professional Regulation educational requirements; the large number of small accounting firms in need of talent; and the need for students to work while pursuing their education provide a rich market for intensive, weekend only, Master s degree programs. Demand continues to grow and the funds generated by these programs provide resources for our initiatives. Supportive Alumni and Business Partners: The SOA enjoys excellent relationships with accounting firms and other companies that employ its graduates. Firms offer development programs for our students. They send guest lecturers. Further, they provide qualified and high- performing adjunct professors when the SOA has a teaching need. Program and Faculty Size: The SOA programs have sufficient enrollment to offer multiple sections of several courses. Adopted March 2012, Page 3 of 8

4 Diversity: Nearly 75% of SOA students are minority. This student composition has attracted the attention of diversity leaders of many firms and companies expanding career opportunities for SOA graduates. Disadvantages Salary Inversion / Compression: Although the SOA offers market salary upon hire, the State University System, which depends on legislative action for funding, makes it difficult for salaries to keep pace with the market. Locational Preferences of Students: The SOA is known and respected locally, and is gaining respect nationally. However, most graduates stay in Miami, making it difficult for the School to build a national alumni base. Space Constraints: SOA offices are not adequate for our growth plans. In the context of these advantages and disadvantages, SOA voted in April of 2011 to strongly support the following mission and vision. Mission/Vision Statement Our Mission: Our mission as a school of accounting in an internationally- focused public research university: Foster an environment of intellectual curiosity, diversity of thought, and integrity; Provide a diverse student body with excellence in accounting education in order to succeed as business professionals and leaders as well as valued members of society; Prepare students for advancement in the accounting profession through specialized masters programs that strengthen professional competencies; Serve the academic community through scholarly research, colloquia, and the training of future accounting educators; Promote opportunities for professional development, lifelong learning and networking for our alumni and accounting professionals in the local, national and global community. Our Vision is: to be an internationally recognized accounting program that (1) provides a high quality education, graduates well- rounded professionals who are leaders in business and in the communities in which they live, (2) has deep interconnections with the business community, and (3) fosters an understanding and appreciation of global issues affecting the accounting profession, with an emphasis on the Americas. Adopted March 2012, Page 4 of 8

5 Our Competitive Niche: To achieve its vision, the School of Accounting will continue to (1) serve our undergraduate students by providing academic and professional development opportunities, (2) invest in and emphasize graduate education in accounting, assurance and taxation, (3) develop our Ph.D. program with a focus on recruiting and developing a small number of high- caliber students, and (4) position itself as having specialized research and teaching expertise in accounting, assurance and tax issues of the world economy. The Strategic Planning Process The College of Business Administration (CBA) engages in regular and on- going strategic planning processes. The School of Accounting process shadows the CBA process. For example, the College undertakes a goals- setting process each Spring, in which the School of Accounting participates. Following the College s goals- setting meeting, the School engages in its own goals- setting meeting. Also, just as the College engages its Board of Advisors and other stakeholders in its process, so does the School of Accounting. Annual goals proposed in the Spring are finalized in August, approved by faculty and announced in September, and assessed in July. The strategic plan is revisited every five years, at a minimum. SOA Strategic Issues: In developing the SOA strategic plan for the next five years, we identified a set of strategic issues that will shape our plan. Maintenance of Accreditation Maintaining accreditation is critical to the future growth of the school. We, therefore, must focus continually on adhering to the Strategic Management, Participant and Assurance of Learning Standards. Focus The School of Accounting will strive to build excellence through investments in graduate programs, faculty and staff. Quality The School of Accounting will build on its selective admissions process and its rigorous curriculum and continuously improve delivery and execution of its educational programs. It will align the breadth and size of its programs with its resources. It will address the communication skills needs of the business community. Faculty Although the college expects little funding for new faculty, the university has committed to funding the replacement, at market rates, of faculty who retire, resign, or leave for another position. This promise will allow us to bring in new talents continually. In order to provide excellent education in our graduate programs and provide an opportunity for faculty to conduct significant research, we need to add faculty to relieve overload assignments, especially for graduate faculty. In addition to tenure- track and tenured faculty, the School must take efforts to assure Adopted March 2012, Page 5 of 8

6 a continuing supply of professionally qualified adjunct professors and academically qualified clinical faculty. Diversity - The demographics of our student body, faculty, staff and advisory board reflect those of our community. The School must continue to embrace diversity and will strive for a faculty that more closely reflects the diversity of the community. Funding The school must continue to explore new avenues to raise funds in order to support our faculty as well as student support initiatives. 1. We will provide excellent programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Our students will: be good communicators, able to interpret and explain complex accounting standards and tax statutes and regulations possess the intellectual and interpersonal competencies to be successful appreciate diversity and cultural differences in a global economy support SOA after graduation 2. We will recruit, develop and retain an excellent faculty. Our faculty members will: create a supportive learning environment contribute to basic, professional and pedagogical research at the highest levels collaborate with each other to produce research provide students with the intellectual and interpersonal competencies to be successful 3. We will continue to engage with our internal and external partners to strengthen SOA. We will: encourage alumni to maintain contact and contribution to SOA enhance life- long learning for our community 4. We will strengthen our financial base. We will: encourage contributions through research centers or globalization initiatives work to increase SOA endowment SOA Strategic Goals: Given our environment and strategic issues, we have identified strategic goals which will shape the actions that we take on an annual basis during this planning period. These goals are identified below. 1. We will provide excellent programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school is well recognized for its MACC and EMST programs and faculty. We will continue to make investments in this area, implement changes recommended in the periodic program reviews, and focus our resources on continuously improving and expanding these programs. We will also continue to develop the Ph.D. program by recruiting and graduating high caliber students. The college is currently at capacity in its undergraduate programs and growth in accounting will occur only if there is a corresponding reduction in other disciplines. We will support student services, educational experiences and professional development programs to enhance our undergraduate program. This additional support will make accounting an even more desirable major for business students and give us the opportunity to increase the quality of students in our major courses. Adopted March 2012, Page 6 of 8

7 2. Recruit, develop and support an outstanding faculty. The College of Business is committed to having a faculty engaged in cutting- edge research and excellence in teaching. We will continue to seek endowments for professorships to bring additional recognition and support to productive faculty. To support our teaching mission in graduate, executive, and professional programs, we will continue to hire clinical faculty who bring a wealth of expertise and experience in business and/or academia to the school. And, to better reflect the diversity of our student body, we will identify and try to recruit Hispanic faculty candidates. 3. Strengthen relationships with academic and corporate partners and alumni. We will continue to build relationships with members of the business community and our alumni. We will involve our Board of Advisors in our activities and we will strategically increase the size of the Board by inviting members with the resources and vision to enhance the School and our programs. We will engage alumni and business partners as program and curricular advisors, as speakers, as mentors, as internship providers, as joint research partners, as employers and in other mutually- beneficial ways to help us achieve our mission. 4. Generate additional revenue from endowments and donations. In addition to generating revenues through value- added programs, we will intensify existing fundraising and development activities and establish new initiatives to enable our long- term growth. We will enhance our annual gift- giving, professorship endowment, and scholarship- donor solicitation programs. Strategic Goal Implementation 1. Achieve academic excellence in our programs. Action Item Improve communications skills by earlier identification of undergraduate students needing support. Add a writing component to the entry exam, use experts from the Center for Writing to identify students who would benefit from FIU writing initiatives. Improve communications skills by requiring a face- to- face communications course in the undergraduate program. Enhance communications skills by requiring a communications assignment with feedback in every accounting course beyond the introductory level. We will continue to use the diagnostic tool Success Measures Improve our AOL assessment outcome by 20% in the next five years. Improve our AOL assessment outcome by 20% in the next five years. Improve our AOL assessment outcome by 20% in the next five years. Adopted March 2012, Page 7 of 8

8 provided by the Center for Writing in ACG4201. Improve interpersonal and professional skills through a continued focus on Passport to Success, a non- credit requirement. Encourage awareness of diversity and cultural differences in the global economy. Improve the quality of instruction in our graduate programs. Improve career opportunities for our students. With faculty agreement, establish a CPA Exam review course to be offered each summer. The review course would require one non- faculty FTE to establish, staff and maintain. Faculty may teach in the program for additional compensation. Improve recruiter perceptions of student skills. Continue to support efforts by national partners to increase the number of minority PhD students Achieve a student/faculty teaching ratio in of fewer than 40 Fully implement of our Best Practices recruiting strategy Within 5 years, increase the CPA pass rates to 50%. 2. Recruit and retain excellent faculty. Action Item Continue to recruit from top research universities. Continue to hire excellent clinical and research faculty who are excellent teachers. Success Measures Faculty success in publishing in premier and UT- Dallas journals. Average student ratings in EBI exit surveys are at least 5 on a 7- point scale. 3. Engage our partners. Action Item Work collaboratively to create globalization opportunities for our students. Improve our undergraduate advising. Success Measures Increased international exposure for our students. With help from our partners, establish an Accounting Advising Center. 4. Strengthen our financial base. Action Item Increase our advisory board to 25 members. Encourage an annual contribution from advisory board members. Success Measures Increased contributions to Accounting Endowment. Adopted March 2012, Page 8 of 8

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