University Aims to Establish First School of Accounting In Texas

Photo by Jessica Temple

The Texas Tech Board of Regents approved a measure for the Department of Accounting to become the School of Accounting; however, the process will take at least a couple of months before becoming official.

Provost Bob Smith said the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board must approve the establishment of the School of Accounting before any changes can be made.

“We’re trying not to play this up too much at this time,” he said. “The Board can approve the formation of a new school, as it did, but we have to get approval from the state agency before that goes into play. And so that will take perhaps two or three months before that all happens.”

Smith said he does not believe approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will be a problem, but the development “is not done until it’s done.”

Robert Ricketts, director of accounting programs in the Rawls College of Business, said this would be the first school established within the college.

The name change has two potential benefits, he explained. One is that the move is a branding effort; the other is that the program hopes to attract a donor to put their name on the School of Accounting.

“The idea is really to emphasize — both for the understanding of our students and also for their benefit — that this is a professional school,” he said. “It’s a gateway into a licensed profession, so by giving it a different name, it sort of distinguishes the program and makes that more clear. It’s distinguishing the program and the students in the program from other programs, not just in the business school.”

According to notes provided by Smith during the Regent’s meeting, there are only 40 Schools of Accounting in the United States accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Tech would be the 41st accredited School of Accounting, and the first in the state.

“We’re pretty proud of that,” Ricketts said. “Our students compete very effectively with other big schools in the state. We’re kind of an afterthought in a lot of other places in the state because we’re out here in West Texas, and so this is one way… to make sure that all the accounting firms and people in the industry realize that (Tech) is a great place to go to find talent.”

While Tech’s accounting program already has some of the best students in the nation, Ricketts said he hopes the name change will attract more students from diverse places. Currently there are more than 150 students enrolled in the accounting graduate program, and at least 200 enrolled in the undergraduate program, he said.

“What we would like is to attract more students outside of our normal recruiting pool,” he said. “We’re hoping to sort of start broadening our footprint. This certainly won’t hurt with that because it is a brand-distinguishing kind of name change. When we recruit students, it just sort of stands out a little bit better.”

The name change will not require significant new funding, Provost Smith said, but it does provide a special organizational framework for raising private funds and for investing in the program for the future.

“I think it shows that there’s excellent recognition for the very high quality of the program, and we’re recognizing it that way,” he said, “but also basing that recognition on the visibility and prestige and stature of the program that’s already in place.

“It turns out that — based on external evaluations and our own understanding of the accounting program — we have a truly outstanding accounting program here at Texas Tech, so it makes sense trying to set it up as something that is very, very special, and that recognition could be through a formal School of Accounting,” he said.

One of the main goals they hope will come with the change is maintaining the school’s affordability, Ricketts said.

“One of our overriding goals — and it’s certainly the reason we’re hoping to attract a name-donor — is we think that Texas Tech is one of the best deals in the country for an accounting student,” he said. “The cost of tuition is relatively low compared to other elite programs that charge very high program fees. For example, Arizona State charges a $15,000 program fee just to come to grad school. That’s a very good program, but their graduates get the very same jobs that Texas Tech grads get in the same cities, so this is a much better deal.

“We would like to be the best deal in the country. You come here for a fair price, you get a great education, you work with great students in the classroom, great faculty, and you get a great job when you’re done, the best in the country, so that’s our goal. Hopefully changing the name of our program to the School of Accounting will distinguish us and help emphasize those things that we’re trying to accomplish.”

About Caitlan Osborn
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