Pathways Commission Report

I had the privilege of being on a panel at the American Accounting Association (AAA – the professional organization for Academia in Accounting) annual meeting held in Washington DC last week.  As usual there were dozens of breakout sessions covering a wide-range of topics over the three days, but one area of particular interest to everyone in the CPA profession were the sessions on the new Pathways Commission Report.

The Pathways Commission was formed based on a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Treasury Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession (ACAP) delivered in 2008.  Specifically the recommendation was to encourage the AICPA and the AAA jointly to form a commission to provide a timely study of the possible future structure of higher education for the accounting profession.  The results of the commission’s effort is an extensive report that can be utilized by Accounting Educators, academic Institutions and the entire profession to ensure that our Universities continue to respond to the market demands for students and research in accounting.

The report can be found on the Pathways commission website at

The report makes seven key recommendations including:

  1. Build a learned profession for the future by purposeful integration of accounting research, education, and practice for students, accounting practitioners and educators.
  2. Develop mechanisms to meet future demand for faculty by unlocking doctoral education via flexible pedagogies in existing programs and by exploring alternative pathways to terminal degrees that align with institutional missions and accounting education and research goals.
  3. Reform accounting education so that teaching is respected and rewarded as a critical component in achieving each institution’s mission.
  4. Develop curriculum models, engaging learning resources, and mechanisms for easily sharing them as well as enhancing faculty development opportunities in support of sustaining a robust curriculum.
  5. Improve the ability to attract high-potential, diverse entrants into the profession.
  6. Create mechanisms for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information about the current and future markets for accounting professionals and accounting faculty.
  1. Convert thought to action by establishing an implementation process to address these and future recommendations by creating structures and mechanisms to transition accounting change efforts from episodic events to a more continuous, sustainable process.

But the report does more than make summary recommendations.  It has extensive details about actions that need to be taken, why these actions need to be taken and possible impediments to accomplishing these critical objectives.  If you are in Academia, this report is a must read and it is just as important to the rest of us in the profession because if we truly want CPAs to be seen on the same professional level as Doctor and Lawyers (OK, maybe not the lawyers), then we need to continue to make progress in conjunction with our Academic colleagues to be seen as a truly learned profession.

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