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Commentary

Teaching and Scholarship at Miami: One Size Does Not Fit All
By Barry Arlinghaus, accountancy

The mission of Miami's department of accountancy is to have nationally recognized bachelor's and master's degree programs in accountancy that provide students with the life-long ability to seek and acquire accounting and business knowledge and transfer it into responsible action in a competitive environment. Stated differently, the objective of the programs is to prepare students for entry-level positions that lead to successful careers in accounting and business. As such they need an understanding of multiple areas of accounting and business, and of course, the analytical, critical thinking, interpersonal and communication skills that are a necessity in today's professional environment.

Miami's accountancy program has been nationally recognized for many years because of its excellent students and its faculty's commitment to high quality undergraduate and master degree level teaching, not because of its reputation for research published in so-called top tier academic journals. Publication by accountancy faculty in the three or four top tier journals now referred to in “outside letters for P&T” as the benchmark and by the university as the “holy grail” has been quite limited.

The accountancy program has been successful because of the extensive involvement of its faculty in professional and academic organizations, faculty interaction with practitioners in the accounting profession, faculty rapport and networking with those who recruit our students, and a balanced portfolio of faculty scholarship.

Miami's accountancy program and school of business have been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) for a long time. Accountancy actually has its own separate AACSB accreditation in addition to the accreditation as part of the school of business. The AACSB's standards are mission driven. The standard that deals with scholarship states that the accounting faculty, as a whole, must be actively involved in making intellectual contributions in the area of discipline-based scholarship, contributions to practice, and learning and pedagogical research, consistent with the academic unit's mission. Our department's historically balanced portfolio of scholarship enabled us to have nationally recognized programs in accountancy.

Accounting programs have to meet two additional faculty standards that other programs in the Farmer School of Business do not have to meet. The faculty, as a whole, must have a sufficient number of individuals who have and maintain professional accounting credentials. And all faculty must demonstrate sufficient ongoing professional interaction to support their role in achieving the academic unit's mission and each program's educational objectives. In addition, the accounting faculty, as a whole, must maintain a portfolio of relevant practical experience in business and accounting consistent with the unit's mission. Besides being blessed with excellent students, it is this facet of faculty workload that has provided national recognition and more importantly, has significantly enhanced and sustained what goes on in our classrooms.

Thus when it comes to teaching and scholarship, one size does not fit all. A balanced portfolio of faculty activities and a balanced portfolio of intellectual contributions enable us to achieve our mission - providing a first class education to first class students. This size fits us!

But the current push for only one kind of scholarship (i.e., publication in top-tier journals) over all else, has resulted in growth in our class sizes and a decline in student accessibility to faculty. I wonder if our current students, in the future, will recall fond memories when they're approached by the university to give back to Miami.

Date Published: 12/08/2005
Volume: 25   Number: 18

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