Fiscal frugality hits finance and accounting at USM

Michael Havlin, senior business and economics major, speaks about his concern that there are insufficient course offerings for finance and accounting majors next semester.
Patrick Higgins
Michael Havlin, senior business and economics major, speaks about his concern that there are insufficient course offerings for finance and accounting majors next semester.

Posted on October 29, 2013 in News
By Skyla Gordon

Like USM as a whole, the School of Business is in a position where it needs to cut down on classes and faculty. However, the coming semester’s course catalogue has raised concerns that those cuts are harming accounting and finance majors disportionately.

Michael Havlin, a senior business and economics major and an administrative assistant for the business office, believes that USM is not making the correct cuts within the School of Business.
“The most common major within the School of Business is the accounting major,” he said. “The sports management major is the smallest major, and yet they are getting almost as many classes as the accounting major.”

With only one accounting and two finance electives being offered next semester for accounting and finance majors, Havlin is concerned about the quality of his education. “I’ll still be able to graduate, but my education will be hurt a lot,” he said. He believes that in order to have a well-rounded education, there needs to be more elective options to choose from.

According to Havlin, there is one accounting elective being offered for 189 accounting majors. At the same time, there will be five sports management electives for about 70 sports management majors.

“It’s just not enough. There’s no way the demand for accounting electives will be satisfied,” Havlin said.

Jeyhun Ismayilov, an accounting major, is also concerned. “I am pretty sure, among 189 accounting majors, there will be people who would like to have more options than just one elective class for spring.”

Ismayilov is gathering student feedback about the lack of accounting electives, and he plans on presenting his results to the School of Business Dean Joe McDonnell.

Havlin met with Dean McDonnell on Oct. 21 to discuss the spring schedule. “I tried to get to the bottom of why there are so few accounting classes being offered next semester. He answered a lot of my questions with questions.”

According to Havlin, McDonnell told him that, “If there’s demand for the courses, he will offer the courses.”

School of Business Associate Dean Bert Smoluk said that if there was a demand for more accounting and finance classes, “We would seriously look at bringing adjuncts in. But we don’t see it. Some [classes] are offered only in the fall, some are offered only in the spring. Students recognize that and plan ahead.”

“We base our decisions on supply and demand,” said Smoluk. According to Smoluk, students demand more marketing classes than accounting and finance classes.

“I think it’s a non-issue,” said Kerr. According to Kerr, two finance and two accounting courses will be offered in the spring term.

Kerr said that he hasn’t received any complaints from the accounting or finance majors about the electives. “We try to accommodate students as much as possible. In the absence of many more complaints, there’s not much we can do.”

Jeff Shields, an associate professor of accounting, disagreed. “[We’re] down for the first time to one elective this spring,” he said. Shields attributed this to the retirement of Charlotte Pryor, an associate professor of accounting. According to Shields, it became more difficult to offer two electives in the fall and spring with the decrease in the number of faculty.

Smoluk said that the School of Business is looking to replace Pryor, however, “Given the financial situation for the university, we don’t know how that will go.”

Havlin is also concerned about the decision to hire a marketing adjunct instead of an accounting adjunct professor. “The funds are there to hire an accounting professor. There are four full time marketing professors already.”

According to Smoluk, “We have adjuncts right now in accounting.”
Havlin has started a Facebook campaign to get business students to email McDonnell and demand more accounting and finance electives. He believes that a lack of elective options is, “going to hurt the long-term prospects of the school.”

“They can afford to offer more classes and still be profitable,” he said.
Havlin explained, “I want to have [elective] choices to better my education.”