Category: Accounting

School of Business Foundation Welcomes New Trustees

At its May 20, 2016 board meeting, the VCU School of Business Foundation elected two new trustees. Welcome!

William Gifford [View Image]William F. Gifford, Jr. (B.S.’92/ACCT)
Chief Financial Officer
Altria Group, Inc.

Billy Gifford serves as Chief Financial Officer, Altria Group. In this role, Gifford is responsible for the Accounting, Tax, Treasury, Audit, Investor Relations, Finance Decision Support and Strategy & Business Development organizations. He also oversees the financial services business of Philip Morris Capital Corporation. He most recently was Senior Vice President, Strategy & Business Development.

Since joining Philip Morris USA in 1994, Gifford has served in numerous leadership roles in Finance, Marketing Information & Consumer Research and as President and Chief Executive Officer of PM USA. Prior to that, he was Vice President and Treasurer for Altria. In this role, Gifford led various groups at Altria Client Services including Risk Management, Treasury Management, Benefits Investments, Corporate Finance and Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis.

Gifford received a bachelors degree in accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business in 1992. Prior to PM USA, he worked at the public accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand, now known as PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.

John D. O'Neill [View Image]

John D. O’Neill, Jr.
Hunton & Williams

John O’Neill’s practice focuses on public-private infrastructure development, public finance, capital finance and complex commercial lending. Substantial experience in structuring transactions for a broad range of public and private infrastructure projects, including airports, roads and highways, convention and conference centers, educational facilities, government administrative facilities and water and wastewater facilities.

O’Neill received his B.A. from the University of Richmond and his J.D. from the Pepperdine University School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Virginia Bar Association, the Richmond Bar Association, the National Association of Bond Lawyers, and a member and past president of the Bond Club of Virginia.

Further information on his work as an attorney can be found at

2014-2015 Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Awards

At the Faculty and Staff meeting on Tuesday, August 18th, Professor Laura Razzolini announced the winners of the 2014-2015 Dean’s Teaching Excellence Awards.

The 2014-2015 Committee was composed by Peter Aiken, Brian Brown, Pam Burch, Donna Byrd, and Laura Razzolini.

During the month of January 2015 the committee  ran a poll of the alumni and student body. They received 115 nominations: 67 from alumni and 48 from students. A total of 53 faculty were nominated as excellent teachers.

After carefully reading the alumni and student nominations, analyzing syllabus, data on teaching and teaching evaluations, and reading each faculty member’s writing summary in the FES (teaching section), the Committee identified the following three individuals for the excellence in teaching award:

Alumni most preferred teacher: Rasoul Tondkar, Ph.D., Controllers Executive RoundTable Professor of Accounting

Students and alumni refer to professor Tondkar as “motivating,” “inspirational” and “a truly gifted professor,” “… sort of an icon in the EMBA program.” He always encourages students to persevere. He goes above and beyond what is expected from a university professor to make sure his students will succeed at VCU and in their future life. He demands excellence in the classroom and forces his students to work hard. As a consequence, students are well prepared for “what it takes to be successful in the accounting field.” Several of his PhD students have been awarded outstanding dissertation prizes by the American Accounting Association for work done while at VCU under Dr. Tondkar’ s supervision. Well after graduating, students keep seeking Professor Tondkar’s advice at every step of their career, and he is always supportive and encouraging. Using the words of a 1990 alumnus, “Professor Tondkar transmitted to his students a discipline, a love for learning and a deep respect for the academic profession.”

Best undergraduate & graduate teacher: Robert Andrews, Ph.D., Associate Professor Emeritus of Supply Chain Management and Analytics

“Dr. Andrew is awesome!” “Unfortunately for us, Dr Andrews is planning to soon retire….and the resounding sentiment is that he will be sorely missed.” Dr. Andrews is commended for his teaching qualities: he makes the material understandable; he relates abstract concepts to real life situations; he communicates in a fun, fair and clear style; he shares with the students his personal class notes of exemplary quality; he makes the students understand the data. Dr. Andrews helps his students with academic issues as well as with personal life situations, his door is always open and he listens patiently.  In conclusion, many undergraduate and graduate students agree that “He has been by far the best teacher we have ever had at VCU!”

Most inspiring teacher: Jon Hill, Term Faculty in Accounting

In the words of an alumnus, Professor Hill “is an amazing professor with an outstanding level of commitment to his students, to Beta Alpha Psi and to VCU Business Alumni.” Professor Hill is commended for the large number of classes he teaches and both alumni and students all agree that he “is an inspiration, a mentor and a great professor;” he “shows passion in everything he does and wants his students to really learn.” Professor Hill is famous for his smile and sunny disposition and his level of enthusiasm has led students to a broader and deeper involvement with the School of Business and its mission.

School of Business graduate students help government agencies with data management

Monday, Aug. 3, 2015In some circles, statistics have a bad reputation. Mark Twain implied statistics are the worst kind of lie, while humorist Evan Esar defined statistics as “the science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures.” Why the mistrust in statistics? Because understanding data can be difficult.

“Many misunderstand data’s role in decision-making – leading to confusion between cause and effect,” said Peter Aiken, Ph.D., associate professor of information systems in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business. “It’s light outside and it’s daytime. That’s a correlation, right? Well that’s interesting, but in this case, just because we passed 12 hours, doesn’t mean it caused the light to come back on. What caused it was the earth revolving. It is only through better management of the data surrounding these questions of light and dark that we can begin to understand various causes and effects.”

As an authority on data, Aiken teaches his students how data management can help organizations to better approach various decisions, including separating reality from randomness. The exercises are so effective the state has taken note, tasking Virginia Deputy Secretary of Technology Anthony Fung — known informally as “Deputy Secretary Data” — with overseeing the state’s data re-engineering internships among his other duties.

Last fall, Gov. Terry McAuliffe established the program through VCU to explore additional uses of data to improve citizen benefits and state government effectiveness and efficiency. Based on Aiken’s curriculum, the internships provide a unique opportunity for graduate students to collaborate with chief information officers of participating states agencies. The students work in teams of two or three to evaluate available data and identify specific business cases in which data can be used to improve decision-making.

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Why is this so important? Well, “big data” is more than just jargon.

“Data is the only resource we have that is a nondepletable, nondegrading, durable, strategic asset,” Aiken said. “We spend or invest fiscal resources, we wear out as human beings, capital assets degrade over time. … All organizations maintain data assets and if you put in place a program to treat them with the respect they deserve, they will grow in value over time and more importantly the organization will mature in its ability to employ them productively in operations.”

About 20 state agencies and 45 students have participated in the internship since its launch last fall. Class participants gain practical experience using data to drive re-engineering. At the end of the semester, participating CIOs have concrete examples of how to make better use of data to provide innovative and less costly services to citizens.

For example, Aiken cites one agency that works with endangered children. Agency workers would go to homes with an 80-point checklist to evaluate specific cases. The VCU interns tested the variables to see how much impact each had.

“This team did a phenomenal job, determining [which] data collected had little or no impact on the cases,” Aiken said. “By getting rid of the data that’s in the way, we can concentrate on those aspects of the case that are really important. Separating correlation from causality. In the future, it will be easier to separate urgent from routine cases, permitting this agency to better allocate resources according to its mission.

“Once we have that type of a result, we can now package these results for other classes permitting increased analysis,” Aiken said. “The hope is that we can expand this program to other universities.”

Certainly the program benefits both the state and its students.

“We estimate that total agency benefits [include] permitting specialists to process more cases, focus more time on investigative work or reduce the paperwork requirements,” Fung said.

Benjamin Siegel has gotten so much out of the internship that he is now in his third semester of the program.

“Supplementing my textbook learning has increased my ability to meet prospective employer requirements,” said Siegel, an Army veteran who is pursuing a master’s degree in information systems. “I’ve grown by working on a real-world problem. I’m working with real-world people, with real-world problems and real-world deadlines. It motivates me to find the best possible solution because the outcome isn’t only a grade but the implementation of a solution I helped to create.”

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While typically information systems students apply for the internship course, it’s open to any graduate student in the School of Business. The course does not require students to have an information systems background, but it does require a background in data. Aiken said the program has attracted students from just about every School of Business department, such as accounting, finance and logistics. Moreover, he sees such a future for data analysis that he’s proposing a data course for all business undergraduates and collaborating with Jeff South, associate professor in the Robertson School of Media and Culture, on a possible interdisciplinary project with students from both schools.

“Our thinking is that Peter’s students would focus on compiling and analyzing large data sets and that my students might focus on putting a human face to the data — by using the data as the foundation for news stories,” South said. “In data journalism, reporters analyze data, find trends and anecdotes to support those trends, and then write news stories that combine statistical analysis and compelling narrative.

“It’s hard to make people care about numbers, statistics and data. But if we show how the data connect to ‘real people,’ then we can get the information across.”

If people understood numbers, statistics and data, they might care more. It’s challenging to teach statistics well, but worth it, Aiken said. Because if statistics are not properly understood, you are in danger of focusing on bizarre connections, such as the divorce rate in Maine correlating with the per capita consumption of margarine.Graphs demonstrate how correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Chart courtesy [View Image]
Graphs demonstrate how correlation does not necessarily equal causation.
Chart courtesy

“If you looked at that, you’d say, ‘There must be a relationship,’ right?” Aiken said. “This is why we need the additional grounding to go in and say, ‘Is that coincidence or is that, in fact, causation?’”

Utilizing existing data to its fullest potential is a risk-free route to better efficiency.

“In a time when government is expected to do more with less,” Fung said, “data is a resource that we can turn into actionable information in order to get greater [return on investment] and improving programs and outcomes for our citizens. In government, we need to move toward a much more data-driven culture where we can measure the value we create.”

For more information on the governor’s data internship, contact Peter Aiken, Ph.D.,


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Prof. Alisa Brink named KPMG Teaching Excellence Fellow

At a reception in Snead Hall on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, Professor Alisa G. Brink was named the KPMG Teaching Excellence Fellow by Paul Croston, Managing Partner of KPMG’s Richmond, VA office. In his remarks, Mr. Croston noted that KPMG established the Faculty Excellence Fund in the Accounting Department at VCU with the goal of supporting scholarly and academic research by an outstanding faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional progress in preparing students to excel in the corporate world.  When asked to comment about Dr. Brink, a number of KPMG associates (and recent VCU graduates) consistently declared that she was a very deserving recipient of this honor. Mr. Croston indicated that KPMG is proud of the strong relationship the firm has built with VCU, having hired over a dozen Rams over the past five years in the Richmond office along with two others who have already accepted offers to join the firm in 2016. KPMG and VCU join in congratulating Dr. Alisa Brink on this well-deserved distinction!

2015 Thalhimer Scholarship Luncheon

The annual Thalhimer Scholarship Luncheon was held at The Jefferson Hotel on Friday, February 6th, 2015. The Charles G. Thalhimer Family Endowment was established at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business through a generous gift from the family in 1986. In addition to supporting the Thalhimer Executive-in-Residence and the Thalhimer Scholar-in-Residence programs, the endowment awards two merit scholarships annually, one for a top graduate student and one for the top undergraduate student.

Mariam Bello, this year’s recipient of the undergraduate award, is a senior with dual majors in accounting and finance. While at VCU, Mariam has been involved in many student organizations including Beta Alpha Psi Accounting Honors Society, Beta Gamma Sigma Honors Society, and the Business Student Ambassador program. In addition to holding leadership positions in three student organizations, Mariam tutors at the VCU campus learning center. After graduation this May, Mariam plans to take the CPA exam, and hopes to live and work abroad in the future.

Miles Dumville, this year’s graduate recipient, is currently pursuing his MBA at the VCU School of Business. In addition to his full-time coursework, Miles has served on the School of Business Strategic Planning Committee as well as the Master’s Program Committee. He was also recently invited into the Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key academic honor societies. His interests include marketing, finance, real estate, the outdoor industry, the hospitality industry and not-for-profit humanitarian and conservation organizations.

Both scholarship recipients attended the lunch, as well Dean Ed Grier and members of the Thalhimer family, including Harry Thalhimer and his wife Marcia.

Tom Snead speaks, inspires at StartUp VCU event

The journey any VCU student embarks on after his or her very first day of class has limitless possibilities. When former VCU Board of Visitors Rector and VCU School of Business building namesake Thomas G. Snead first arrived in Richmond to attend VCU, he said he had very few aspirations other than being a Richmonder.

Sponsored by StartUp VCU, Snead spoke to entrepreneurial-minded students involved with the growing student organization at a special event held at the new School of the Arts building The Depot.Snead addressed a crowd of nearly 30 students Monday night, describing his time at VCU and how he became who he is today [View Image]
Snead addressed a crowd of nearly 30 students Monday night, describing his time at VCU and how he became who he is today

Snead, who graduated from VCU in ’76 with a degree in Accounting, described how he came to attend VCU after growing up as, “a farm boy” in rural Virginia.

“I thought I had died and gone to heaven,” Snead said. “I had never seen so many lights in my entire life at the time.”

StartUpVCU President Jack Alden and Vice-President Carmine Di Maro said they chose to have Snead speak at their event last week after personally getting to know him this last year. Alden said both he and Di Maro felt Snead’s story was inspiring and wanted him to share it directly with organization members and the student population.

“We wanted to have somebody who has really given back to their community share their story,” Alden said. “It really rings true his message of hard work and following the journey wherever your path might take you. You never know where you might end up.”

During his presentation, Snead described how he came to become one of the most recognizable and influential members of the Richmond business community. After meeting his future wife, Vickie Snead, on a blind date during his second semester of college, Snead said he was encouraged by her to aspire for a good career out of college.

Snead said he had been seeking a degree in General Studies, but decided on Accounting before returning to school in the fall as a sophomore. After earning good grades his second year, Snead said one of his professors encouraged him to apply for an internship with KPMG, an audit, tax and advisory firm which wielded great influence in Richmond area business at the time.

“It changed my life. They gave me a job,” Snead said, offering that same encouragement to students Monday night. “Take those internships. They’ll open your mind. Do whatever it is you have to do. It opens doors and you will learn a lot.”

From internship to job offers to nearly annual promotions, Snead would eventually become President and CEO of Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield and serve as an executive for several other companies and businesses until choosing to retire in 2006.

VCU alum ’11, Kwaku Osei gave a short presentation before Snead addressed the audience. Currently working for Venture for America, Osei said students who consider themselves non-traditional in their professional approach can still learn tons from taking internships and exploring opportunities outside of their comfort zone.Osei, Di Maro, Alden and Snead [View Image]
Osei, Di Maro, Alden and Snead

Osei, who worked for Deloitte Consulting as an analyst immediately after college, said he left the highly reputable and prestigious firm and took an over 50 percent pay cut in order to work for the non-profit, Venture for America. Osei now works in Detroit and proudly works to make a difference in the revitalization of the city.

“There’s going to be a lure of accepting the job offer with the most money or prestige,” Osei said. “But what I want to tell you is to go for the job which will have the most meaningful experience.”

Citing the unique experience VCU and Richmond have to offer students, Osei said students who make the most of their experience at VCU have much to offer the business world.

“You guys here tonight can go head-to-head with anyone,” Osei told his audience. “I’ve been around people from Harvard and Yale and I’ll tell you, they have nothing on me or you.”

VCU Engineering and StartUp member Andrew Batz said he was extremely excited to hear Snead and Osei speak. Batz, who joined StartUp VCU when it was founded in Fall 2012, said the organization has offered him a platform to try and network with business students and mentors who can help him realize his inventions and products to their full potential.

Working in conjunction with StartUp VCU, Batz said a team of him and members from the organization entered the StartUp Weekend competition in Charlottesville last year and won a second place prize for their business plan.

Entering its second year as an organization, Di Maro, who founded the club, said they’re still looking to recruit new students and raise their profile. He said the organization is looking to partner with the newly established, university-wide VCU Squared venture creation initiative as one way to complete that goal.

Marketing junior Wave Wheat attended Monday night’s event hoping to become more involved with StartUp VCU and to hear Snead and Osei speak. Wheat said he has aspirations of being a creative brand manager and possibly opening a niche retail clothing store one day.

“I feel as if everyone in their own right should, if not now, start being entrepreneurial minded at some point in their lives,” Wheat said.

After the event, Di Maro said he hopes events like these continue to inspire students to become more involved with the university and make something of themselves.

“I can count about 20 or 30 people who were not motivated or out in the community doing great things when I met them,” Di Maro said. “As a result of coming to our club and whatever else it may be in their lives, I’ve seen so many people who were just skating by now excelling past imaginable belief. Seeing that transformation makes all the many hours of work worth it.”

-Story by Chris Suarez, student journalist

Why We Give – Trish and Jon Hill

Trish and Jon Hill [View Image]

Trish and Jon Hill are Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business alumni multiple times over. Both were double majors in Accounting and Information Services (B.S. ’85), earned their MBAs from VCU (Trish in ’92, Jon in ’99,) and in 2012, Jon completed a master’s degree in Information Systems. Today, Trish is a senior lead analyst with Altria. Jon is a full-time accounting teacher at VCU, treasurer for VCU Alumni and faculty advisor for both Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) and the Executive MBA program.

Long-time supporters of the VCU School of Business Annual Fund, the two recently made a $25,000 pledge designated for the BAP Excellence Fund to be paid over five years. Half of their pledge is made possible by Trish’s employer, Altria, through a matching gift program.


Why do you give?

We both went to VCU on the G.I. Bill. VCU offered us a profession and a career. We are appreciative of that. Nobody truly does anything on their own, and we remember, with gratitude, the many teachers and mentors who helped us along the way. It’s an honor to be included with many alumni that give back and to know we are helping someone else achieve their dreams.

We also give to encourage others to give. VCU is the heart beat of Richmond. We’ve seen firsthand how the decrease in state funding has affected the school and we really believe that alumni are best suited to fill that gap.

Why did you designate your gift for the BAP Excellence Fund?

The fund financially supports VCU Accounting students to give them a leg up and a view into the profession. With the BAP Excellence Fund, we’re trying to create a sustainable endowment so students don’t have to raise the money needed to develop their professional and technical skills.

For example, this summer we accompanied some of our accounting students to the BAP annual meeting in Atlanta. There were more than 1,000 students at this convention hearing from world-class speakers, learning best practices and networking with students from around the world. Conferences like those give students exposure to career possibilities that exist.  We went into our careers blind. If we’d attended a conference like this, we might have gone into something a bit different, like forensic accounting; it’s fascinating.

One thing that sets VCU students apart is that so many of our students work while attending school. Employers love their work ethic. Many are first-generation Americans or first-generation college students. They’re busting their tails, and that’s why the BAP Excellence Fund is so important. It supplements them by improving their professional skills and connecting them to future employers.

What’s the benefit to giving?

The President of VCU Alumni, Baxter Perkinson, says all the time, “We don’t know where VCU ends and we begin.” A lot of our social life is built around VCU – basketball games and alumni events. There are so many wonderful people and so many fun things to do. Being involved with VCU keeps us young. We love it. It’s so rewarding to see our students achieve success.

Remembering Ed Coffman, Ph.D.

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In memoriam: Edward Coffman, Ph.D.

Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

When asked upon his retirement, “If you could sum it all up in one word, what does the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business mean to you?” Edward N. Coffman, Ph.D., said, simply, “proud.”

Edward “Ed” Coffman made the School of Business proud, too. Coffman, an alumnus who passed away July 24 at the age of 72, taught in the Department of Accounting for 46 years, five of which he served as chair.

“This is a sad time for the School of Business community,” said Dean Ed Grier. “Ed was one of those professors who truly relished teaching and interacting with his students. He loved the school, and was loved in turn.”

Even as an administrator, Coffman remained faculty-oriented and deeply respectful of others, said Philip Olds, Ph.D., an associate professor of accounting who taught with Coffman for 33 years.

“He believed that all major decisions should involve serious consideration of the views of faculty,” Olds said. “This characteristic came through most clearly in the five years he served as department chair. Some individuals, once they become an administrator, seem to forget what they believed when they were faculty members; Ed never did that. As chair, he always said that he saw his role as an advocate for the views of the department’s faculty.”

Coffman grew up in the small town of West Point, Virginia. After graduating from high school he worked at the local paper mill with other members of his family, including his father. When Coffman decided to attend college in 1962, he became the first in his family to do so.

At VCU, Coffman met fellow undergraduate Edward L. Flippen, now an attorney with McGuireWoods and a former rector of the VCU Board of Visitors. The two remained close friends for 52 years.

“There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his family and friends,” Flippen said. “Ed always put other people first, and yet, at the same time, he was able to be highly accomplished, doing his job effectively and efficiently. Not surprisingly, he was very popular with students, and developed strong relationships with the faculty.

“As highly accomplished as Ed was, he never bragged [about himself]. He bragged about his family, he bragged about his friends. He bragged about his VCU colleagues. He was the most humble person I have ever known.”

After earning both undergraduate and master’s degrees at VCU, Coffman taught in the Department of Accounting from 1966 to 1968. He left to pursue his doctorate at George Washington University, but in 1970 returned to his teaching position at the School of Business, where he spent the rest of his career. An avid Rams fan, Coffman also was a prolific author of academic books and journal articles. He was a visiting professor at universities across the globe, and received numerous awards, including the Outstanding Accounting Educator Award of the Virginia Society of CPAs.

Coffman witnessed many changes in the university during his tenure. The opening of the School of Business building in 1972 (now Grace E. Harris Hall) provided one of the first opportunities for the business faculty to teach and be housed together in one location. He saw the institution grow and develop into a major comprehensive university that is highly regarded locally and nationally.

Economics professor David Harless, Ph.D., served on several committees with Coffman and later collaborated on a research paper with him. He said that in all their interactions, he found Coffman to be a wonderfully positive person.

“Ed was so genuine: kind, empathetic, compassionate, cheerful,” Harless said. “He was also unflappable. Over the many years at VCU he had to deal with a variety of characters, some of whom were testy and hot-tempered. Ed was able to maintain his calm, positive demeanor even under trying circumstances.”

For instance, Harless recalls one graduate student who had a difficult personality. Not only was she difficult to work with, she was difficult to talk with. Were it not for Coffman’s help, Harless said, she could have easily slipped through the cracks and never completed her degree program.

“I took to calling him Saint Ed for a while,” Harless said.

Coffman’s accomplishments, modesty, openness and friendship so impressed Rasoul Tondkar, Ph.D., in 1979, that when Tondkar was interviewing for a faculty position, he chose VCU.

“When I arrived at VCU, he helped me with my teaching, research and service responsibilities,” Tondkar said. “Since that time I worked with him as a colleague for 32 years until he retired. Not only Ed cared about his colleagues, students, but also cared about total strangers.”

Once, while traveling to a research conference, Coffman and Tondkar were approached in the Charlotte, North Carolina, airport by a man who could not speak English. The man was trying to find his gate and airline.

“Ed started to help him,” Tondkar said. “I said, ‘Ed, we are going to miss our flight.’ His answer was, ‘I need to help this man.’ This is the way I always remember Ed. Eventually he assisted the man and we were the last passengers to board.

“I can share with you how much he has helped me personally and professionally and how much I have learned from him. I have been trying to do what he did for me to do for my students, colleagues and others so that Ed’s legacy of kindness, caring and generosity would continue forever. Finally, I can tell you that I sorely miss my friend and my mentor.”

Coffman is survived by wife, Nell; son and daughter-in-law, John and Carey Taylor; and numerous granddaughters, sisters, nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Ed and Nell Coffman Faculty Endowment Fund (select “other,” then type in “Coffman Faculty Fund”), or Community Missions, First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia.

Linda Williams contributed to this article.

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Dr. Carolyn Norman’s study featured in the New York Times

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Chair of the Accounting Department, Dr. Carolyn Norman, conducted the study, “Will Disclosure of Friendship Ties between Directors and C.E.O.s Yield Perverse Effects?” along with Jacob M. Rose and Anna M. Rose of Bentley University and Cheri R. Mazza of Sacred Heart University.

The study focused on the social ties between board members and chief executives.  The experiment found that when social relationships were disclosed as part of director-independence regulations, board members didn’t toughen their oversight of their chief-executive pals but the opposite; they went easier on the C.E.O.

The participants included 56 current directors at companies of all sizes with 30 years of business experience, and served on multiple boards.   They were divided into two groups and were asked to role-play as board members of a hypothetical company.  The groups were divided into having a social relationship with the C.E.O. or no ties at all.

The results lead to two messages. One is for regulators: simply disclosing a conflict or friendship does not eliminate its potential to create problems.

The other is for investors. “Shareholders should take a more active role in finding out what kinds of relationships their boards and C.E.O.s have,” Mr. Rose said, “and recognize the potential traps created by them.”

The study was just featured in the New York Times and will be published in the July-August issue of The Accounting Review.

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

Beta Alpha Psi Rolls Out New Alumni Committee at Spring Luncheon

Accounting Honors Society Beta Alpha Psi held their spring luncheon at the Jefferson Hotel last week, honoring seniors within the organization who will graduate in the next month.

VCU Associate Vice President for University Alumni Relations, Gordon McDougall, was invited to speak at Friday’s lunch to talk about the newly organized Beta Alpha Psi Epsilon Zeta Chapter Alumni Committee and the merits of having a more emboldened alumni organization.

“You are linked with this university for the rest of your life,” McDougall said. “Its reputation will rub off on you and you are the ambassadors for the reputation of this university. Everyday, when you go to work, you brand Virginia Commonwealth University … You should feel a responsibility to be the best you can be with your education, being an informed citizen in the community where you’ll live in.”

The formation of an alumni committee for members of VCU’s Beta Alpha Psi Epsilon Zeta chapter was developed in order to bolster alumni-student relations and generate more support for the honors society and it’s student-members.

During the luncheon, soon-to-be-graduates of Beta Alpha Psi were surprised with the announcement from Amy Gray, Director, Student and Young Alumni Engagement, that Beta Alpha Psi is paying the membership fee for their first year in the VCU Alumni Association.

Students who enroll into the VCU Alumni Association are welcome to join secondary alumni associations as well, reflecting membership in other shared interest or academic university organizations like Beta Alpha Psi, or geographic regions, such as VCU Qatar.

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McDougall says the Alumni Association also welcomes current students and alumni participation in defining and establishing other affiliations that can be considered under the VCU Alumni Association.

“This idea is to create a system where the alumni relate by their affinity under the umbrella of the VCU Alumni Association,” said McDougall.

McDougall and other members of the VCU Alumni Association encouraged event attendees — many of whom were VCU alumni invited by way of their association to corporate partners of the School of Business — to become members and stay further connected with their alma mater.

Liz Watson, a VCU graduate who now works for Altria as a financial analyst, said she’s not currently a member of the alumni society, but says she’s interested in joining because she believes strongly connected alumni networks help new graduates network to find career and project opportunities.

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“I think it’s good to have a mixture and diversity of experience and disciplines,” Watson said. “Especially with the globalization of business now. Just because you’re in finance now, doesn’t mean you’ll never need to know someone with a medical or engineering background.”

Beta Alpha Psi member Chris Maka said other alumni-related organizations such as Ram to Ram mentoring helped him land his summer auditing internship and could lead to a potential career in the coming months post-graduation.

Maka says he’s excited to become a member of the Alumni Association and is planning to continue his membership beyond the year which has already been paid for him.

“A few of my friends have already graduated and a few of them are already members,” Maka said. “I’ll stick around, because I like the idea of connecting with other Rams, and it’s investing back into my college which has already given so much to me.”

For more information on the Beta Alpha Psi Epsilon Zeta Chapter, click here.

For more information on joining VCU Alumni, click here.

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

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