Art of Accounting: Changes at Fairleigh Dickinson masters’ program

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I am an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and started with them in 1976. I taught five different MBA courses in 22 semesters, stopping in 1988. I restarted in 2017 and have now taught three different courses in six semesters since then in the MBA and MS programs. I also guest taught MBA classes at Seton Hall and Montclair University. Accordingly, I’ve become particularly involved and aware of higher education and how universities work, and want to share some thoughts here.

Teaching provides an opportunity to give back by transferring knowledge, sharing experiences and offering a practical outlook to people who either will be starting their careers or are at mid-career with a desire to advance further. The students are alert, excited and diligent and ask probing questions that keep me sharp. The MBA students are taught how to use the financial data as tools when they become managers. The MS students are taught the techniques and intricacies of the clients’ data, analyzing the underlying transactions or uncomplicating the tax code. I find the interactions exciting and look forward to every class.

Something different occurred last semester: I ended up teaching my class on Zoom starting March 17 through May 5. FDU provided its professors with webinars and training sessions on this new tool which has become ubiquitous. I took three programs in two days and called the head of the accounting department for some reassurance and to iron out some fine points. I later got training on using the school’s technology to create exams. The exam questions are placed in random order, so no two students take the same exam. Then the exam is electronically marked, while I proctor the students via Zoom.

FDU has decided that the semester starting this week will have all of the MS in Taxation courses completely virtual. The curriculum has also been revisited and assessed to ensure that the courses deliver high-quality tax programs that will be attractive and responsive to the needs of the marketplace. The tuition has been reduced to help students confront what is going on with the pandemic and the resulting widespread economic downturn.

The school also posted the top 10 reasons to join the MST program, which I found interesting and insightful. To take a lesson from academia, I suggest firm leaders prepare a top 10 list on why staff should want to work for you, and another top 10 why clients should want to use your firm, and the benefits to them of doing so.

Here is a link to the FDU MST website with prices, curriculum, course requirements and the top 10 list: https://www.fdu.edu/program/ms-taxation/.

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com with your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People list. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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Accounting education Accounting students Coronavirus Online learning Ed Mendlowitz