To Whom it may concern:
The social acculturation of professionals, who are purportedly educated about their responsibility to serve the public interest in exchange for their recognition of professional status, is shaped by experience in collegiate/professional school classrooms. Since the education of business professionals is to provide a group who are fundamentally first concerned about the markets and the profit motive, it cannot be expected that business school curricula per se will advance an awareness of a particular profession, such as that of public accounting. Given the current concerns about professionalism being identified in the hearings on auditor independence, it is apparent to me that accounting professional education, with specific exceptions in professional schools, is insufficient to provide the capital markets with CPA professionals acculturated and motivated to serve the public interest above self- interest. This latter motivation is the hallmark of a true profession.
An investor economy, with its 401[k] attributes, now dominates in the United States and requires a dedicated profession to serve the "information right" of individual investors in particular, as well as the investing public as a whole. While public agency regulators may attempt to support this end, the public interest cannot be advanced without a dedicated profession committed to such an end. The right to own private productive property, the hallmark of our incentive based free enterprise system, cannot be facilitated without protecting the "information right" of individual investors. For the CPAs of the present and future to be able to fulfill this social function -- there is an absolute need for a separate educational emphasis on conduct and behavior consistent with that end. Resolving conflicts of interest after the fact is closing the door after the barn door has been found open. Formation of expectations about social responsibility is best accomplished and conducted based on values inculcated in a carefully constructed curriculum dedicated to providing society with the professionalism required. To date accountancy education has not been adequately developed and supported to achieve this socially necessary end in the same way and to the same extent that support for medicine, law and engineering have been. It will take substantial amounts of dedicated educational resources to establish programs which will produce the social benefits required. Accounting accreditation remains a potential vehicle, but absent properly funded professional programs/schools, it is a limited tool for sufficient education.
Gary John Previts
Gary John Previts
Gary Previts is Professor of Accountancy at the Weatherhead School of Case Western Reserve University where he also serves as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs.
He completed doctoral studies at the University of Florida in l972.
He is editor of Research in Accounting Regulation, and has served as editor of two other refereed journals. In l998, he co-authored with Barbara Merino, A History of Accountancy in the United States.
His teaching and research interests include corporate disclosure and communication to investors;regulation, and the development of accountancy. He has served as Director of Education of the American Accounting Association [AAA], the national accounting academic organization, as President of the Ohio Society of CPAs and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of CPAs. In l996 he received the AICPA's Lifetime Achievement Award for Educators. He is active in the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes, and in recent years has chaired two of that organization's committees. With colleagues at CWRU he has contributed to research on investor information and user needs, working with the AICPA Special Committee on Financial Reporting , the Financial
Executives Research Foundation, and the Business Reporting Research Project of the FASB.
Gary and his wife, Fran, have four adult children and three grandchildren