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Graduate Accounting Students Explore Policy with the Experts

Oct. 31, 2006

In mid-October, 37 graduate accounting students and four accounting professors traveled to New York and Washington, D.C. to explore first-hand accounting policy issues with leading experts.

Accounting Trip 2 FA 06Sponsored in part by firms who recruit accounting students from Baylor, the trip was also a week filled with opportunities for students to network with alumni, to talk with employees about job-related issues and to take part in Q&A sessions.

"The idea originated when I received an alumni newsletter from William and Mary that described a similar trip," said Dr. Charles Davis, professor and chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Law. "With Baylor's alumni connections, I thought we could pull together a great trip for our students. I think firms contributed to the trip because of the quality of students they hire from Baylor, and because we have very loyal alumni who want to give something back to our program."

While in New York, the students learned about international accounting standards convergence at KPMG, saw a demonstration of systems penetration testing at Ernst & Young, and considered the tax implications of mergers and acquisitions at Deloitte. They also visited with the Investor Relations department of ConocoPhillips, visited the New York Stock Exchange, and even managed to fit in a Broadway show.

In Washington, D.C., the group received a tax update from PricewaterhouseCoopers' national tax staff, met with personnel from the U.S. Treasury Department, the IRS, the FBI, and even had a chance to speak with four justices of the U.S. Tax Court. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board Director of Research and Analysis Phil Wedemeyer and board member Charles Niemeier, both Baylor accounting alumni, provided insight into the operations of the board as it fulfills the duties assigned to it under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The students also took a tour of the White House.

Accounting Trip FA06For many of the students, the highlight of the tour was a session arranged by Baylor accounting alumnus Russ Sullivan, Democratic Chief of Staff for the Democratic Senate Finance Committee. Meeting in the committee's hearing room, students were presented with an actual tax bill that had been proposed previously, and with the help of some finance committee staffers, the students participated in a mock tax bill mark-up session. They were able to discuss issues regarding the child tax credit and alleviation of the so-called "marriage penalty" and to try to format the bill in a way that would maximize its chances of passing.

"The trip was a wonderful networking experience for everyone involved; not only between different people at the organizations we visited but also for all of the graduate students," said Emily Wilson, MAcc student from Spring. "I was exposed to possible career paths in the accounting field that I had never thought or heard of before. It has been really interesting being back in class and being able to apply a lot of the information that we learned throughout the week."

Dr. Davis notes that the trip is already bearing fruit. "Faculty members are already seeing students using ideas they were exposed to on the trip in the classroom. We are currently looking at the making this trip an annual event. It was definitely worthwhile."

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