The New York State Society of CPAs’ Foundation for Accounting Education plans to join with Pace University in New York later this month to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession program.
The COAP program was launched at Pace in 1987 to introduce minority high school students to the many career paths available to them through the field of accounting, a profession in which minorities have been historically underrepresented. COAP accomplishes this by hosting hundreds of students each year for five days during the summer at 10 college campuses across the state.
“We’ve done a very good job of attracting young minority students into the profession, helping them realize that accountancy can be a part of their dream,” said Joanne S. Barry, the NYSSCPA executive director who helped launch the Pace COAP program in 1987.
The formation of the program was supported by the National Association of Black Accountants and CPA firms and businesses throughout New York. In its first year of inception, only 25 college-bound students attended Pace’s COAP program, but since then, the program has grown to 10 campuses across New York state, with more than 2,700 alumni to date.
Pace will celebrate COAP’s 25th year with high school juniors attending the program at its Pleasantville campus from June 26 to June 30.
Pace University was founded as an accounting institute, so “it’s kind of a natural fit [that] we should be involved in a program like this,” said Lynne V. Byrne, associate dean of Pace’s Lubin School of Business and a member of the task force that launched the program.
COAP programs will be held at nine other colleges and universities across the state this year including Adelphi University (June 25-29), University of Buffalo (June 26-30), Long Island University (June 26-July 1), SUNY New Paltz (June 24-27), University at Albany (June 27-30), St. Johns University (June 26-30), SUNY Oswego (June 26-29) and Westchester Community College (June 27-30).
The program got its start during the NYSSCPA presidency of CPA Bert N. Mitchell, founder and chairman of Mitchell & Titus, the largest minority-controlled CPA firm in the United States. “When we started that program, the participants … had maybe never even seen a black CPA,” Mitchell said. “Being a CPA was not an option” in their minds.
Through its COAP Program, the FAE seeks to dispel this notion, by offering a learning experience that includes a tailored curriculum and extensive opportunities to interact with successful minority role models, as well as gain exposure to the corporate environment.
“This program is even more valuable than when it was introduced 25 years ago,” said CPA C. Daniel Stubbs, Jr., director of the Master of Accountancy in Financial Accounting program at Rutger’s Business School and chair of the Pace COAP program. “The increased access to information spurred by the Internet emphasizes the importance of our core courses, including the evolving role of accounting, financial statement analysis and ethics.”
All of the educational sessions are conducted by CPAs and professionals in business and academia, and the students live on the campuses of each hosting university for the duration of the program.
The Pace COAP program will this year include classes with NYSSCPA leaders, including CPA J. Michael Kirkland, NYSSCPA vice president and director in the Deutsche Bank AG Accounting Policy and Advisory Group.
“We want to see more black and other minority CPAs climbing the ladder in public accounting firms,” Barry said. “In the right environment, they succeed and the firms succeed.”
A celebratory banquet on June 30 will include special highlights of the 25th anniversary of the COAP program at Pace including attendance by past graduates and top CPA leaders.