The SAA faculty advisor, Professor Kim Anderson, and Jennifer Brand, SAA recognition dinner chair, along with Maura Wilkinson (not pictured), organized the dinner.
On Tuesday, April 25, President Michael Driscoll welcomed 165 people to the IUP Student Accounting Association’s Annual Recognition Dinner at the Rustic Lodge in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The keynote speaker was IUP accounting alumna Michele McEvoy O’Leary ’94, assurance managing director at BDO in Pittsburgh. The dinner was organized by Professor Kim Anderson, faculty advisor of the SAA; Maura Wilkinson, the SAA senior vice president, and Jennifer Brand, the SAA recognition dinner chair.
The 165 people in attendance included 52 accounting professionals from 22 companies located in 7 different cities, 92 accounting majors, and 21 faculty and administrators. Accounting professionals from all of the big four accounting firms and 11 regional and local public accounting firms were in attendance as were professionals from three financial institutions, two health services companies, a CPA review company, and a university endowment office.
Current students were able to network with IUP accounting alumni with varying levels of experience, from as little as six months to as much as 25 years. Pictured from left to right are IUP alumni Nicole Miller ’14 and Alison Rykaczewski ’16, both with EY (formerly Ernst and Young) in Pittsburgh, and graduating IUP seniors, Alexis Murin (who has accepted a position with EY in Philadelphia) and Sarah Zbur (who has accepted a position with KPMG in Pittsburgh).
The evening began at 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour mingling session. At 6:00 p.m., President Driscoll welcomed everyone with a brief speech, followed by a buffet-style dinner. At 7:00 p.m., SAA Vice President Clayton Treible introduced the guest speaker, O’Leary.
O’Leary earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1994 from IUP, where she majored in accounting. Upon graduation, she began her career with Alpern Rosenthal, a regional public accounting firm located in Pittsburgh. Alpern Rosenfeld was acquired by BDO in December 2013. O’Leary was promoted at BDO to assurance managing director in 2015. Her clients are primarily real estate development companies and nonprofit organizations.
The following individuals spoke at the SAA dinner (front row from left to right): Michele McEvoy O’Leary, assurance managing partner, BDO; Professor Kim Anderson, SAA faculty advisor; Maura Wilkinson, SAA senior vice president; (back row from left to right): Clayton Treible, SAA vice president; Justin Palaschak, SAA vice president of finance; IUP President Michael Driscoll, and Katie Swauger, SAA president
O’Leary’s speech focused on how the public accounting profession has changed in the past 20 years. She mentioned the many ways that firms have adjusted their cultures to adapt to the expectations of millennials. She highlighted several articles and statistics that point toward a very favorable job market for accounting graduates.
After O’Leary’s speech, Justin Palaschak, the SAA vice president of finance, recognized the faculty and administrators in attendance at the dinner. Palaschak finished by introducing Cyndy Strittmatter, Eberly assistant dean. Strittmatter recognized and congratulated Kim Anderson, faculty member in the department of accounting, for receiving the 2017 Center for Teaching Excellence Advising Award for her work in the area of student advising.
SAA Recognition Dinner Chair Jennifer Brand asks the professionals in attendance to stand as she recognizes each one by name and the company they represent.
Next, Anderson recognized the following accounting students: Alyssa Schaard, Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Outstanding Senior Award; Derek Vandevort and Lisa Fletcher, Highest Graduating Senior Award; and PICPA Scholarship winners: Jennifer Brand, Alyssa Schaard, Alexis Murin, Gina LaRocca, and Brittany Spitzer.
Anderson also recognized the nine accounting majors enrolled in the Cook Honors College and 36 accounting majors in attendance who are enrolled in the Business Honors Program. Anderson also recognized the IUP athletes in attendance who are accounting majors and recognized several students who participate in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities.
Wilkinson recognized the 2016 and 2017 SAA officers and chairs. Brand recognized each professional and the company they represented. The evening concluded with SAA President Katie Swauger making closing remarks, including a save-the-date reminder that the SAA’s annual Accounting Career Day will be held on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. Accounting Career Day is a large career fair held every September for accounting majors. The 2016 Accounting Career Day included over 75 employers from 36 companies.