Calloway School initiative boosts diversity in graduate accounting program
December 31, 2008
As part of an ongoing diversity initiative, Wake Forest University’s Calloway School of Business and Accountancy will invite top candidates from other campuses, including historically black colleges and universities, to attend a three-day, on-site introduction to its Master of Science in Accountancy program Jan. 9–11. The event, known as the Calloway Accounting Diversity Consortium and now in its second year, is funded by the accounting firm Ernst & Young.
Last year’s inaugural gathering brought 16 interested prospects to campus, including 11 seniors and five juniors. Eight of the seniors applied; six were accepted, and three enrolled in the program. Of the five juniors, three have applied for admission in the fall 2009 semester. The three-day event, in conjunction with other diversity efforts, helped the Calloway School raise minority representation in its graduate accounting program from 4.5 percent to 15.7 percent in one year.
Debra Jessup, director of diversity initiatives for the schools of business at Wake Forest, credits the gains, in part, to a strategy of building ongoing relationships with historically black colleges and universities. That strategy emerged from a 2007 summit meeting Wake Forest hosted with business school deans from Hampton University, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Florida A&M University, North Carolina Central University and Morehouse College. Ernst & Young also funded that event, and Jessup says the firm’s support has been crucial for bringing students to the three-day event.
“Getting students onto campus is the best way to get across the message that Wake Forest is a good school with a good faculty and a good reputation for graduating students who are highly competent in their field,” Jessup said. “Every time we get a student from a different college or university, we progress toward developing the type of long lasting relationships that will keep Wake Forest on the list of potential graduate schools and keep diverse students coming here.”
Participants get the opportunity to meet faculty members, students and alumni of the Calloway School, and representatives from Ernst & Young, as well as to learn about the curriculum, the admissions process and the career value of a master’s degree in accounting. The agenda includes formal presentations, panel discussions, a tour of the campus and opportunities for informal discussions during meals.
“The Diversity Consortium was a wonderfully planned event that gave me a well-defined understanding of the culture and the prestige of Wake Forest University,” said Jonathan Grice, a 2008 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, who attended the event and later enrolled. “Because of the great faculty, administrative staff, and the students, when I left the consortium, I knew that Wake Forest University was the place for me.”
Minority representation in the accounting profession remains an ongoing industry concern. Since 1969, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has maintained a Minority Initiatives program aimed at raising the proportion of minorities employed in the accounting profession to equal their representation in the population at large.
“Diversity and inclusiveness are vital to any organization in today’s interconnected world,” said Randall Duncan, Ernst & Young campus coordinating partner. “We appreciate Wake Forest’s efforts to continuously improve the diversity of its outstanding accountancy program, to help build diversity within the profession, and to better prepare all of its students for today's multi-cultural work environment.”
Since 1997, when the Calloway School began offering a master’s degree in accounting, its graduates have consistently ranked first or second in the nation for their performance on the Certified Public Accountant exam, according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.
Note to editors: While the event is not open to the public, interested members of the media may arrange to attend selected sessions and interview participants by contacting the Wake Forest News Service in advance at (336) 758-5237. The sources quoted above are also available for telephone interviews.