Davenport Offers New Degree Programs

July 29, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Davenport University students will have a couple more degree options this fall, with the addition of an MBA concentration in finance and a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting fraud investigation.

The MBA concentration in finance prepares students with a practical understanding of how financial data is used to make business decisions. It involves focus on budgeting, financial information, investments, internal auditing, data analysis, compensation and benefits, and international financial strategies.

An MBA concentration in finance has a broader scope in terms of the variety of jobs and organizations it could be applied to. A graduate could qualify for a position at a bank, a federal or state governmental unit, or basically any position in the field or finance, said Kojo Quartey, Ph.D., dean of the Donald W. Maine School of Business at Davenport.

The accounting fraud investigation program is a full-fledged degree program and the only one of its kind presently offered at a Michigan college or university, Quartey pointed out. It concentrates on developing technical skills in accounting, computer security and legal investigation. Students learn about the accounting principles, information systems and auditing practices required in establishing internal controls for fraud prevention. The program also trains students in the soft skills of communications, teamwork and leadership needed by the professional fraud examiner.

The program was designed for students who want to pursue careers as fraud investigators, internal auditors, certified fraud examiners or forensic accountants.

Quartey said the fraud investigation program was created in response to nationwide market demand, as well as in response to the public company accounting reform and investor protection act known as Sarbanes-Oxley.

There’s simply a greater demand today for individuals who can assure regulatory compliance within companies, he said.

“It goes beyond just the usual accounting,” Quartey said. “In the old days, accountants were pretty much number crunchers. The accounting curriculum in the old days had maybe one or two courses in auditing. With the fraud investigation program, we have several courses in auditing, information systems and security analysis. There are legal aspects also.”

The high-profile financial malfeasance of Enron, WorldCom and Tyco raised an intense awareness of fraud and underscored the need for skilled fraud investigators, said Dennis Echelbarger, founder and president of Echelbarger, Himebaugh, Tamm & Co., a certified public accounting firm that specializes in business development, computer consulting and litigation.

“There has always been a requirement for CPAs to look for fraud and so forth, but it’s never been the primary purpose of audit services,” Echelbarger said. “Now we’re in a mode where the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the American Institute of CPAs are cooperating and looking for ways to provide more skills.”

Echelbarger said his company is looking for people with those skills, and that he thinks the Davenport program is “just ideal.”

According to Quartey, the accounting fraud investigation program is very cutting edge. Companies in this day and age don’t want to wait until fraud is committed; they want to know that their books are being checked on a regular basis to assure that they are complying with the rules and regulations of Sarbanes-Oxley, he said.

It’s about taking preventive measures rather than being forced to take reactive measures.

“We like to be proactive,” Quartey remarked. “We’ve been in the business of business since 1866. Accounting programs are very strong here, so naturally we wound up being the first to offer such a program in this state.”    

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