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Lehigh accounting majors ahead of the curve

As chief accountant for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Jim Kroeker is responsible for establishing and enforcing accounting and auditing policy to improve the transparency and relevancy of financial reporting.

Kroeker shared his expertise with Lehigh accounting students this week as this year’s distinguished speaker in the Segal Speakers Series. The series was established in 2003 by William N. Segal and Andrew P. Segal ‘67 to bring accounting leaders to campus to talk with students and faculty. The event also promotes networking among students, faculty and alumni.

In his talk, Kroeker focused on U.S. and international accounting standards and on the strong indications that the U.S. will sooner or later make the transition to the international system. The U.S. is still in the early stages of this debate, but Lehigh’s accounting department has already included information on international financial reporting standards in many of its courses.

Kroeker was invited to campus by accounting department chair, Parveen Gupta, who worked at the SEC as an academic accounting fellow from 2006-07.

Prepared to excel, in exams and on the job

“We strive to prepare our students to deal not only with current accounting and business issues, but also with challenges they will need to tackle in the future,” says Gupta. “That preparation should not be limited to the classroom.

“Lehigh accounting majors gain a greater understanding of real-world issues because their classroom education is supplemented by meaningful, involved, experiential learning opportunities. Jim Kroeker’s visit is one example of many such extracurricular opportunities that we create for our students.”

During his visit here, Kroeker attended a class, held a question-and-answer session and took time to meet individually with students. He also geared his public talk toward students. He recognized that Lehigh students were getting an early jump on understanding the shifting landscape of accounting standards as he noted, “You’ll have a tremendous competitive advantage.”

While accounting courses cover international financial reporting standards, course work remains primarily focused on U.S.-based accounting standards to ensure that students are fully prepared to excel in the workplace and on the Uniform Certified Public Accountants exam.

The accounting program has been consistently ranked as one of the best accounting programs in the nation by BusinessWeek magazine. The “Big Four” public accounting firms and many other global and financial services firms draw heavily from Lehigh’s accounting talent pool.

“Having the SEC chief accountant here is a tremendous opportunity,” says Kyle Sharaf ‘10. “It gives us an industry perspective as opposed to a simply an academic view. It really enhances our learning as we prepare to go out into the real world.”

Story by Freddie Marianacci

Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010

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