As accounting program leaders, we are all well aware of the challenges we face. Budgets continue to shrink at a time when many of us are witnessing increased student demand for classes. Senior faculty who often carry heavier teaching loads and service responsibilities are retiring to be replaced by more expensive assistant professors with lighter teaching loads and reduced department service loads. Development efforts have become more challenging in light of the weakened economy and shrunken balance sheets of our alumni. And let us not forget the constant need to revise our curriculums so that our graduates have the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive and complex profession and world. While there is much to keep us awake at nights, I firmly believe that these many challenges also pose opportunities for accounting leaders to rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it. In the words of Stanford economist Paul Romer, "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste!"
One benefit of the past few years' economic and financial calamity is it has forced each of us to think deeply about how we can best utilize our human and financial capital to maximize the value we provide our students and our profession. More than ever, effective academic leadership during challenging times requires a mission-based perspective to streamline our programs, manage our faculty, and allocate scarce resources. Working with our faculty, it has become increasingly important to develop a shared sense of mission, values, and program priorities. This applies to the department as a whole as well as to each program offered by the department. If your goal is to become a "top 25" program, increase the impact of faculty research, or launch an on-line program, it is likely that you will have to deemphasize other activities or programs within the department and more strategically align your financial resources with your goals.
The challenges we face as academic leaders can make many of us feeling lonely at times. More than ever, the APLG is a relevant and valuable resource for all of us. The APLG's mission is to "stimulate excellence in accounting education through outstanding leadership of accounting programs." On a less lofty level, the APLG provides members the opportunity to learn from each other, share our ideas, and learn from others how to "stimulate excellence" in both our personal development and our programs.
Our annual mid-year meeting in Savannah on February 13-15 offers many opportunities to learn from excellent leaders at the many forums and sessions. In addition to the program, this meeting also provides each of us the opportunity to visit informally with other department heads and program chairs to gain insight from their experiences. Over the years, I have gained tremendous knowledge and insight from this meeting and I hope you will too. You can learn more about the meeting at http://aaahq.org/aplg/seminars/2011/regis.htm. A "tip of the hat" goes to Charles Davis who is chairing this year's meeting and has put together a terrific program.
Productive and useful organizations like ours are sustained by the involvement of its members. I encourage you to become involved in the APLG. There are opportunities at both the national and regional levels for both veteran and rookie academic leaders.
I look forward to seeing you in Savannah!
Department of Accounting and Information Management
College of Business Administration
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
916 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996-0560