Retiring? Stay Involved with the Profession as an Executive-in-Residence: Seasoned Executive Experts Can Give Back to the Profession by Serving as a Resource for Students and Faculty on College Campuses

By Maginnis, Jerry; Weidman, Stephanie M. | Journal of Accountancy, September 2017 | Go to article overview

Retiring? Stay Involved with the Profession as an Executive-in-Residence: Seasoned Executive Experts Can Give Back to the Profession by Serving as a Resource for Students and Faculty on College Campuses


Maginnis, Jerry, Weidman, Stephanie M., Journal of Accountancy


As demographic trends suggest, a significant number of CPAs have retired recently or will be doing so in the near future. Many of these practitioners will be looking for ways to give back to their communities--or to their profession--during retirement. One way to do so is by becoming an executive-in-residence (EIR) for an accounting program at a college or university. An EIR role can be an excellent avenue for sharing practical experience with students, helping to prepare the next generation of accounting professionals.

The term executive-in-residence has been used in industry to describe executive experts who lend their specialized knowledge and experience to organizations on a temporary or part-time basis. The academic world has also adopted the EIR model, and the practice has become increasingly widespread among top business programs in the United States and abroad.

EIRs can perform various roles within an accounting department. They may serve as guest lecturers, work with career placement offices to mentor students through the job placement process, organize special interest presentations and panel discussions, consult with faculty on curriculum development and skill building, and help with fundraising.

The extent of their involvement can vary from just a few hours a week to being on campus virtually every day. (For those who wish to experiment a bit and "walk before they run," many universities offer multiple volunteer opportunities that constitute less of a commitment than a full EIR role. See "Inspiring the Next Generation: How CPAs Can Contribute on Campus," page 20, for more details.)

Virtually all EIRs are retired or semi-retired, and most accept the role on a noncompensated basis. When a teaching assignment is involved, the EIR will normally be compensated as an adjunct or a part-time instructor. In all cases, the presence of seasoned and successful executives on campus provides students with role models and lessons learned from practical experience.

EIRs can benefit accounting programs in many ways. As they typically are retirees, they often have more time and flexibility to devote to extracurricular activities than faculty do. They have built up broad networks of business connections, which they can use for the benefit of accounting programs by bringing business leaders into the classrooms and recruiters to career fairs, helping departments to establish recruiting relationships with firms not previously on campus. EIRs' years of practice experience also gives them credibility with students when they discuss topics such as ethics in the profession, the importance of CPA licensure, and how to begin a successful accounting career.

ONE UNIVERSITY'S EXPERIENCE

Rowan University, a public university in New Jersey with an enrollment of 16,000 undergraduates, recently began an EIR program with Jerry Maginnis, CPA, co-author of this article, serving as EIR. Maginnis came to the role with 36 years of experience in public accounting, having retired from KPMG, where he was the office managing partner of the firm's Philadelphia office.

In his role as EIR, Maginnis has arranged for a number of high-profile guest speakers to visit campus and has also helped broaden relationships with prospective employers of students. He is helping launch a Beta Alpha Psi chapter and to pilot a program on campus that is designed to raise awareness of the benefits of becoming a CPA. He has been welcomed into classrooms for guest lectures by faculty and is working closely with the Accounting Advisory Board. He has also become a resource to students, who often seek him out for career advice.

HOW TO GET STARTED

It has been estimated that nearly half of U.S. college business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business use some form of EIR program (see "Executives-in-Residence at the Business School: Expectations and Realities," by Julie Toner Schrader and Lee B. …

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