There Is A Santa Claus

Happy 2017! We certainly hope that you experienced a joyous holiday season.

As you may recall, in our previous blog posting, we sent a letter to Santa Claus and requested a new business school building. Although we’ve come to love and cherish our longstanding home in Koffler Hall, we’ve grappled with the challenge of growing into a world-class institution within a fairly constrained space.

And guess what occurred? It was a Christmas Miracle! Yes, Providence Friars … there is a Santa Claus, and he responded to our request magnificently.

ryanOr perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Santa arranged for Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan to join other generous donors by providing the funds for our new home. This week, we are moving into our new Ryan Center for Business Studies … just in time for our Spring semester to begin on Tuesday.

As you can see, there are still a few “wrappings” to remove from the building. Nevertheless, we’re already finding ways to put it to good use.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood and would like to pop in for a friendly tour, you’re welcome to reach out to our Department Chair Christine Earley and let her know your plans. Or you can simply use the “Contact Us” app on our blog’s home page to reach us.

Most importantly, you can rest assured that the spirit of Christmas is thriving at Providence College. Here at the Ryan Center, we’re determined to keep it alive throughout the year.

A Letter To Santa Claus

Dear St. Nicholas (aka Santa):
From the Department of Accountancy

We sincerely hope that you enjoyed visiting our campus, earlier this month, for the third international St. Nicholas of Myra Conference on Catholic Social Thought.

As you know, Santa, Christmas Eve is right around the corner. We’ve been considering our options regarding a gift request, and we regret that we have a rather sizable “ask” for you this year.

Would it be possible to drop a new business school building into our stocking? We’ve done everything possible to “make do” with Koffler Hall, but it’s become difficult to recognize our potential as a fast growing, world class business school within a building that was originally built for a much smaller program.

We don’t want to be greedy, so we’d be delighted with anything you provide that fits snugly within our Providence College Centennial Campus Plan. Does this look reasonable to you?


Of course, to start paying down our indebtedness to you, we’ll curtail our natural naughtiness. And we’ll increase our levels of niceness, effective immediately.

Thanks very much for your consideration, Santa. We’ll be sure to leave you a large plate of cookies on Christmas Eve … assuming that the gesture doesn’t run afoul of any conflict-of-interest ethical guidelines at the North Pole Justice Department, of course.

The Accounting Friars

St. Nicholas On Campus

stnickHave you stopped believing in Santa Claus? Well, after you read this blog entry, you may need to reconsider your skepticism! After all, St. Nicholas actually visited our campus earlier this month, and was addressed by two Providence College professors and one accounting program alumnus.

This startling activity occurred at the third international St. Nicholas of Myra Conference on Catholic Social Thought, held on campus in our Ruane Center for the Humanities. Finance professor David Zalewski, Accountancy program alumnus Jim Klinger of IFC Asset Management (the private equity arm for the World Bank), and Accountancy professor Michael Kraten joined a panel discussion entitled Catholic Social Teaching and the Development of Human Capital.

Mike led off by addressing the impact and structure of the Libor global banking scandal. Dave then discussed taxation and other regulatory policies that affect the labor markets. And Jim followed by discussing how he applies principles of Catholic Social Thought in his own professional role within the financial services industry.

Their comments stimulated lively debates throughout their session and into the subsequent dinner hour. According to Jim, “It was a pleasure and an honor to return to campus to explore the implications of Christian theology on business practices before a variety of professors and students. I look forward to continuing our conversations, and to acting on what we talk about.”

Added Dave, “The conference provided an excellent opportunity to bring together scholars and practitioners from both business and the humanities to discuss the contribution Catholic social teaching can make in improving economic welfare.”

Mike agreed, noting that “Academics are sometimes accused of working in silos. And yet we were able to ‘make the connection’ between the global banking system, national taxation policy, and the theological underpinnings of our ethical and moral codes of conduct … all within our panel discussion!”

Indeed, our dynamic trio fully engaged the audience, and we can only hope that they pleased the spirit of St. Nicholas as well. After all, the Accounting Friars of Providence College will send Santa a letter soon, asking him for a suitable Christmas gift to enjoy throughout 2017 and beyond. We’ll publish that letter in a forthcoming blog entry.

To Be Continued …

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons File Ferapontov.jpg. This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas (including the United States) where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.

Santa’s Accountants

This brief posting provides an update to our November 2, 2016 posting entitled “The Rhode Island Olympics.”

How would you like to wake up on the morning of Christmas Day and find 303 boxes of art supplies, 42 backpacks, 32 throw blankets, 23 boxes of diapers and formula, and 16 basketballs and footballs in your gift stocking? As well as $2,000 in cash, $540 in gift cards, and 44 hours of community service time?

In effect, that’s what the families who rely on Child & Family’s programs and services received from the Rhode Island Society of CPAs on November 9th, in connection with its Rhode Island Olympics. Held for the third consecutive year on the campus of Providence College, more than one hundred accounting professionals and students formed fourteen teams and competed for the RISCPA Cup.

The winner was Carl Weinberg & Co., LLP, a Warwick based accounting firm. They defeated a Big Four firm, several regional and local firms, and accounting students from Providence College and Johnson & Wales University. Considering the home court advantage enjoyed by the Friars of Providence College, it may have represented the greatest competitive upset of the year.

Well, perhaps the second greatest upset, given the results of the preceding day’s U.S. Presidential election!

The competition was paired with a holiday donation campaign for Child & Family, one that produced the impressive array of charitable gifts. It provides clear evidence that the spirit of Santa Claus is alive and well in the accounting profession.

PwC Challenge Champions

On November 7th, 45 Providence College students comprising 9 student teams entered the hallowed halls of the Ruane Center for the Humanities to participate in the 2016 PwC Challenge Case Competition.

The winning team poses for a group photo with their mentors and PwC professionals.
The winning team poses for a group photo with their mentors and PwC professionals.

This year’s case addressed the issue of sustainability. The student teams were each asked to develop and present a strategic plan for a company grappling with a difficult environmental challenge.

The teams completed their presentations with the guidance of twelve student mentors, their faculty mentors, and eight PwC mentors who were Friar alumni. After delivering their presentations, each team answered questions about its proposal from a panel of judges, all of whom were Friar alumni and partners with PwC.

According to Friar alumnus John Formica, Assurance Partner and New York Metro Industrial Products Business Development Leader at PwC:

This year’s Challenge competition included a record number of freshmen and STEM majors. PC’s diversity of students really impacted the creativity of the solutions for the case’s Green Light Tire executive team to consider in evaluating the presentations.

Overall, it was another remarkable evening, filled with anticipation, excitement and exhilaration. Although one team inevitably emerged as the overall PC Champion, each student who participated, including the mentors, truly experienced an important learning event.  Hats off to all for another great Challenge event!

While the level of competition at this year’s event was extremely high, when the dust settled, one team emerged victorious: Team Mind the GAAP. The team participants were Christopher Hill (2018 Accountancy), Taylor de Boer (2019 Finance and Marketing), Matthew Hunt (2019 Accountancy), Jillian Sweeney (2019 Accountancy and Management), and Michael McArdle (2020 Finance).

Caroline Haddad (2017 Accountancy and past PwC Challenge Champion), Friar alumnus Nick Sirianni of PwC, and Professor Julia Camp (Accountancy) served as mentors to the team.

An ecstatic Professor Camp remarked after the competition:

The team worked extremely hard preparing for their presentation. In fact, my job as a faculty mentor was easy because they were so well prepared. I am really proud of how they came together and presented in front of the judges! Caroline Haddad was also a big help, and had great insight and experience that she shared with the team.

In addition to the honor of being crowned the “2016 PwC Challenge Champions”, the winning team members received a generous cash prize provided by PwC. They have also been invited to a celebratory dinner hosted by Providence College President Father Shanley and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Father Sicard.

This year’s competition would not have been possible without the support of John Formica, Ann Ulett, Lauren Irwin, and all of the other professionals from PwC who supported and sponsored the event.  We thank them, as well as all of the Providence College faculty, administrators, and student mentors who gave so generously of their time to support this year’s Challenge.

Stephen Perreault

Valerie Peterson

The Rhode Island Olympics

The Olympic Games have been held in some spectacular locations, haven’t they? Rio. London. Beijing. Montreal. And, of course, Rhode Island.

What? You weren’t aware of the Rhode Island Games? They actually occur every year, with the Accountancy Department of Providence College hosting the event facilities in 2016.

But it’s not sponsored by the International Olympic Committee. It’s the Accounting Olympics, and it’s sponsored by the Rhode Island Society of CPAs. According to Providence College student Tim Dalton:

I did coordinate last year’s Olympics! It was a great success. I believe we had about fifteen participants, and we engaged in many different fun games. Some were related to accounting, and some were simply fun activities, including basketball, golf, tug-of-war and many more. At the end, we crowned a champion. I believe that Blum Shapiro won the whole event.

Tim is almost perfectly correct. In fact, sixteen teams competed for the crown, staffed by individuals from academic institutions, financial service organizations, and public accounting firms of all shapes and sizes. A team of professionals from Blum Shapiro did indeed snare the top spot, although a pair of teams with Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. (KLR) professionals secured the second and third spots.

But Tim didn’t mention some of the more unusual competitive events. Last year, the teams also competed in the tissue box and toilet paper challenges, an elastic sharp shooting event, a variety of puzzles, and a “Minute to Win It” challenge. Incidentally, you cannot find any of these dramatic events at the IOC’s version of the Olympic Games.

On the other hand, there is no Decathlon or Marathon at the RISCPA’s version of the Games. And yet accountants still enjoy the Rhode Island version.

According to RISCPA President and Providence College alumnus Bob Mancini:


RISCPA’s Rhode Island Young Accounting Network (RIYAN) is in its fourth year of producing the Olympic Competition. Providence College has proven to be an ideal venue because of its location, its amenities, and, of course, the support of its student body and academic colleagues.

Our Providence College Friar participants will be spoiling for revenge this year, with a team of our finest students having finished 14th in the 16 team field last year. But with home court advantage in its favor, our Friars are determined to establish a championship tradition.

So if you are a fierce Olympic competitor, or if you simply enjoy an exciting competition, please plan to join us on November 9th. The Friars and the RISCPA will certainly appreciate your support.

And if you bring a donation of food, gift card, toy, clothing, or other item, the RISCPA will gladly deliver it to Child & Family, the largest and most comprehensive social service provider in Newport County. It is also one of the largest such providers in Rhode Island.

A Message From Lily The Dog

Many thanks to Department Chair Christine Earley for participating in our 5K NAMI Walks on October 22, 2016! Christine recently joined our Rhode Island Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and is now serving in the positions of Board Member and Treasurer.

As Theology Professor Dana Dillon’s pet labrador mix, I was delighted to lead our “Paul’s Pals” team on the walk. Eleven Providence College faculty and students, and one canine (me!), raised funds for our very worthy cause.

Paul is Dana’s brother; he lives with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type. He is one of my favorite humans in the world, the one who can always be relied on to take me out for some “walk, sniff, and restroom” quality time. I was more than happy to suffer through the indignity of wearing a purple human shirt (see below) to let Paul know that he’ll never walk alone.

Even though I walked on all fours, my paws were still extremely tired by the end of the event. Indeed, I had a ruff time completing the five kilometers! I can’t even begin to imagine how my human colleagues must have felt, being limited to two feet and all.

Thank you, Friars and friends, for your financial contributions. The funds will be used for the salaries of our support staff members and the training activities of our group and peer counselors.

And you can feel comfortable that the funds will be well spent, because Christine is our Treasurer! Sponsorship donations to her Walk can still be made via her NAMI web page.