Corporate Accounting Scandals Provoke New RIT Business Course




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Is corrupt accounting to blame for recent bankruptcies at firms like Enron, WorldCom and Global Crossing, or do the rules of accounting open the door to questionable practices? Thatís up for debate during a highly relevant course coming to Rochester Institute of Technology.

Crisis in Accounting: Myth or Reality debuts at RITís College of Business on Dec. 4. This 11-week graduate-level seminar course is open to MBA students at RIT. Daniel Tessoni, assistant professor of accounting, developed the course and will serve as the instructor.

"This course emphasizes a more topical approach to understanding how the rules of accounting are formulated," explains Tessoni. "Students will be educated on how these rules are established and why they allow managers room for interpretation. Most importantly, weíll examine how financial statements affect the wealth of users and other interested parties."

Discussion around water coolers and across America has focused on whether accounting rules are frequently broken. Many experts maintain that loopholes within generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) allow for financial reporting that-while potentially unethical-is not illegal. The issue then becomes whether the problem lies with the accounting procedures-or the rules that facilitate them. Either way, blame for the recent corporate failures is still being assessed.

"Itís argued that accurate financial statements could have prevented this crisis," says Tessoni. "Would companies like Enron and WorldCom be viable, vibrant businesses today if their financial statements had been more accurate? Was it bad accounting or bad business decisions that caused these huge problems?"

There are also questions over the impact on shareholders. Accurate financial statements may have prompted investors to sell their stocks. But Tessoni says itís likely they would have struggled to find buyers. "Would fewer people have actually lost their money in the end? Thereís a lot here that needs to be examined."

Crisis in Accounting: Myth or Reality will explore controversial accounting issues such as revenue recognition, leases, pensions, employee stock options, and capitalization versus expense. Guest speakers with intimate knowledge of these issues, such as corporate executives, board members, auditors and attorneys, are scheduled to offer presentations to the class.

"This emphasizes our commitment to making business education relevant to the issues that, for better or worse, are receiving extensive national and international attention," states Thomas Hopkins, dean of RITís College of Business. "Crisis in Accounting complements traditional academics by providing students with the necessary framework to form their own conclusions."

RITís College of Business is recognized nationally as a leading provider of career-oriented business education, offering undergraduate and graduate level programs in accounting, finance, international business, management, management information systems, marketing, and photographic marketing management. U.S. News & World Report ranks RITís College of Business among the top 50 undergraduate business programs in the country.