College accounting professors are returning to the podium this semester with a new topic: Accounting practices and Ethics in light of the Enron situation. "Suddenly accounting professors are aware that accounting is no longer accurate and reliable," said Michael Granof, professor of accounting at the University of Texas at Austin.
Even before all the facts are known, accounting students are finding Enron is in use as a case study in the classroom. "I can't avoid, nor do I want to, many illustrations and examples (from the Enron scandal). There's so many reporting issues involved with Enron that I'm just naturally incorporating these illustrations through the semester," said Paul R. Brown, chair of the accounting department at New York University's Stern School of Business.
Students are responding with a sense of skepticism about the accuracy of accounting as well as a concern about the ability to judge an accounting firm's reputation.
Some professors welcome the fact that accounting and the need for integrity is in the spotlight. Others are concerned that the Enron scandal will chase potential accounting students away from the field. "You're going to see a decline in students wanting to enter the profession," Mr. Granof predicted. "Going into accounting has always been thought of as something different than going into finance or marketing. That's gone now. The profession has been so discredited that students will be discouraged from going into it. That's ironic, because the need for accountants is going to increase."