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Spring 2012
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CALS Notes

Advanced Accounting Gives Dyson Students an Edge

By Stacey Shackford

Jerry Goldman ’72 and Gary Kozlowski ’89 have provided steadfast support for the growth of undergraduate accounting at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

Jerry Goldman ’72 and Gary Kozlowski ’89 have provided steadfast support for the growth of undergraduate accounting at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

In the wake of high-profile corporate accounting scandals and increased regulatory requirements, the need for qualified accounting students is greater than ever.

Thanks to the dedication and generosity of two CALS alumni who helped shape a unique undergraduate program in accounting, graduates from the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management are in a prime position to meet the needs of the financial sector.

The origin of the program goes back nearly a decade. Jerry Goldman ’72, a senior partner at Ernst & Young at the time, observed that the accounting profession was challenged with recruiting enough outstanding graduates to feed increased demand for talent with strong accounting backgrounds. He also recognized a golden opportunity for his alma mater to establish itself as the preeminent Ivy League accounting program.

He approached Cornell professor William Lesser, then chair of AEM, about introducing intermediate accounting classes to the CALS curriculum. Goldman then teamed up with his fellow Ernst & Young partner, Gary Kozlowski ’89, to raise the funds necessary to make it happen.

With the participation of other Cornell alumni throughout the firm, they exceeded their initial $195,000 fundraising goal. Under the leadership and guidance of senior lecturer Jack Little, a curriculum was developed, and great interest among students and administrators soon followed.

Two years later, as Cornell was seeking accreditation to transform its AEM program into an undergraduate business school, Goldman and Kozlowski took it a step further, pushing for additional advanced courses. This time, they had the support of the Ernst & Young Foundation. A $600,000 grant from the foundation funded three advanced accounting courses for a three-year period. An accounting specialization was also added.

“This was a big step. Now, for the first time, if undergraduates wanted to pursue a Certified Public Accountant track, they could do it, while also getting a well-rounded Cornell education,” Goldman said. “Whether they are going to be accountants, financiers, bankers or CFOs, understanding the fundamentals of balance sheets, income statements and how a business is run will make for a better, well-rounded professional.”

Student response to the offerings has been extraordinary, Goldman said.

“The introductory classes are often oversubscribed, the intermediate classes are large and full, and enrollment in the advanced classes has surpassed everyone’s expectations,” he said.

While the original foundation grant has expired, the program still receives significant annual contributions—and foundation matches—from alumni at Ernst & Young. Goldman remains committed to ensuring the program continues and has recently helped establish an Endowment for Accounting Excellence, which will help provide lasting support for the program, with the first contribution coming from Goldman himself.

He hopes to build upon the momentum generated by the recent successes of the applied economics and management program.

Designated as the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in 2010, the program has ranked No. 3 in Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of best undergraduate business schools.

“It’s now a preeminent business school, offering a very robust accounting program that, I believe, is very true to the mission of the college,” Goldman said. “CALS does a phenomenal job of exposing students to the entire university and encouraging a diversified course load. I think the accounting program has complemented that philosophy.”

This model partnership between Cornell, Ernst & Young, and alumni benefits not just the principal sponsor, but the entire industry it represents and others it supports, Little added.


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