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By Gary J. Previts, PhD, CPA, Case Western Reserve

The Annual Research Conference of the Academy of Accounting Historians was conducted at the Marriott Hotel on Public Square in Cleveland, December 6 and 7, 1996.

The conference, on the eve of the centennial year of the NYSSCPA, included presentations by Julia Grant of Case Western Reserve University and James Craig, managing editor of The CPA Journal. Dr. Grant is the editor of The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants: Foundation for a Profession published by Garland Publishing Inc. as part of a series in accounting history. She reviewed some of the historic events of the founding of the society and the persons most influential in the formative years of the society. Craig highlighted selected other events in the life of the New York Society putting them in the context of its statement of purpose drafted originally in 1897 and last revised in the 1920s.

The remainder of the conference focused on the importance of the CPA examination in the development of CPA education. Several important episodes involving individuals, who led the efforts for passage of the first CPA law and the administration of the first CPA examination in December 1896, were included in presentations throughout the conference. One session, for example, featured a presentation on Charles Waldo Haskins, who served as founding president of the NYSSCPA in 1897 and held that office for several years until his death in 1903. Another paper presented a theoretical analysis of the first CPA examination administered in December 1896.

The program concluded with a premier panel of professional leaders, including AICPA Chairman Robert Mednick, American Accounting Association President Joseph J. Schultz, and Doyle Z. Williams, dean of the College of Business, University of Arkansas, and former head of the Accounting Education Change Commission. The panel, which focused on the future of the CPA examination, presented an extensive review of the emerging responsibilities and skills expected of future CPAs and the anticipated impact of the 150-hour education requirement.

His first major speech on the subject of accounting education, "Expectations for the Future of the CPA Examination," provided AICPA Chairman Robert Mednick the opportunity to observe that a "reformed, market driven examination will connect the effects of postbaccalaureate education and experience and also be flexible enough in delivery and structure to capture new concepts and markets which identify with the CPA's role as the independent information professional of the future."

AAA President Schultz' presentation was based on his "personal observations" about the future of the examination and stressed the importance of proper educational preparation. Dean Williams' remarks identified options for the reformation of the examination, which are dependent upon the many other challenges the profession faces. Should the exam deal only with competencies that relate to services for which the CPA is regulated? Or should it test the training and skills required for the whole range of other assurance services that will be market driven?

Dr. Doris Cook, president of the Academy of Accounting Historians introduced the conference's concluding speaker, Harold Q. Langenderfer, professor emeritus, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Langenderfer, who organized the ethics education initiative of the American Accounting Association, focused his remarks on the importance of the CPAs' commitment to professional integrity and ethical conduct.

The conference was hosted by John Carroll University and Case Western Reserve University. *

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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