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BusinessWeek names accounting program sixth-best in U.S.

As a follow-up to its annual undergraduate business school rankings, BusinessWeek recently announced that the College of Business and Economics’ accounting program captured sixth place in its national specialty program rankings.

This year’s No.6 ranking represents a three-place move up the charts for Lehigh’s accounting program, which was No.9 in the same rankings in 2006.

It’s an honor that doesn’t surprise Sheri Uslander ’07, president of the Lehigh chapter of Beta Alpha Psi who will soon head to New York to work at Ernst and Young.

“Lehigh and its accounting program have many special things to offer. The community is so small that everyone is connected in some way,” Uslander says. “This is really comforting to students because it is easy to turn to professors, peers and alumni for advice.”

Those sentiments were shared by many of Lehigh’s students who participated in the magazine’s student survey. BusinessWeek asked over 80,000 senior business majors at 123 schools to rank a variety of academic categories on a 1-5 scale.

The final results accompany the larger business school rankings report issued this March, in which Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics again finished among the country’s top 20 business schools.

“Lehigh’s accounting program is proud of its talented and hardworking students and caring faculty, who challenge their students and take them well beyond their comfort zone,” explained Ken Sinclair, accounting department chair.

“These two factors, when combined with an innovative curriculum and a constant flow of outside-of-class activities, make our accounting program a key school for Big 4 public accounting firms and many global and financial firms," he added.

That may be an understatement. According to Lehigh’s career services office, four of the top five companies that recruit Lehigh students are accounting firms—otherwise known as “The Big 4.” They include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst and Young, KPMG and Deloitte and Touche.

Producing high performers

It’s a measure of how successful the accounting program has become at producing the next generation of accounting leaders. “Our experience with Lehigh graduates is that … Lehigh alumni are frequently among the highest performers,” said Ernst and Young partner Bob Watters.

Griff Welton, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, agrees. “Lehigh is a strategic source for entry level recruits and the next generation of leaders in the firm,” he said.

According to Sinclair, the accounting program continues to evolve to meet the demands of the accounting and auditing industries. The accounting department implemented a Master in Science in Accounting and Information Analysis program, for example, that satisfies a new “150-hour” requirement issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The innovative M.S. program addresses increased educational requirements that cannot be accommodated in a traditional, 124 credit undergraduate program.

Matthew Wisser is a student in the M.S. program and sees advantages extending back to his undergraduate accounting days at Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics. “Being associated with the Lehigh name has proven to be an invaluable resource when networking. Many people look for an ice-breaker when talking to partners or recruiters during events,” he said. “But interestingly enough, I’ve found that starting any conversation by letting them know you attend Lehigh is sufficient enough.”

The college’s reputation in the business community continues to grow, helped in large part by the success of its accounting program.

“The College of Business and Economics is able to graduate students who are critical thinkers and appreciate the changing business landscape. I think it reflects the combination of academic rigor and business relevance in our curricula—a combination that is the signature of our highly successful accounting program,” said interim dean Tom Hyclak.

Tom Yencho

Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2007

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