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URI accounting professor awarded Fulbright Senior Specialist for lectures in Ecuador

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 3, 2006 -- A University of Rhode Island accounting professor has been included on the roster of experts by the Fulbright Senior Specialist program for his knowledge of currencies, financial reporting and education in Latin America and Spain.

Associate Professor of Accounting Alejandro Hazera completed work on his first Fulbright senior specialist grant during two weeks in March at Escuela de Posgrado en Administración de Empresas (ESPAE), a graduate business school in the port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador.

As an invited guest lecturer to Guayaquil’s ESPAE, Hazera’s three major tasks, all of which were conducted in Spanish, included—updating the ESPAE faculty on applying the Internet to finance and accounting analysis; conducting a stock exchange sponsored lecture about the importance of financial transparency, and reviewing the school’s accounting and finance courses.

“In coming years, much of the world’s economic growth is expected to originate in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and other regions where many U.S. universities have not traditionally focused,” Hazera said. “At the same time, the URI student body is becoming more varied in terms of national origin, language, and many characteristics. Some of my colleagues already focus a bit on these regions in their courses and research. By providing at least an additional bit of focus on the cultural, linguistic, and societal characteristics of Latin America, we not only recognize the increasing globalization of business, but also serve the needs of an increasingly diverse student body.”

The traditional Fulbright program sends approximately 800 U.S. scholars abroad each year. In 2005 the Senior Specialists Program, which was established in 2001, sent 419 scholars overseas.

The Fulbright Senior Specialists Program is designed to provide short-term academic opportunities (two to six weeks) for U.S. faculty and professionals. Shorter grant lengths give specialists greater flexibility to pursue a grant that works best with their current academic or professional commitments. Hazera has been on the specialist roster since 2004, and is eligible to participate in one grant program a year. Admission to the roster is based on a national peer review process.

“I have been traveling for personal reasons to Latin America, especially Costa Rica and Mexico, ever since I can remember,” said Hazera, a Newport resident. “However, 10 years ago I began traveling to Mexico to research the relationship between the financial transparency of Mexican banks and that country’s 1990s financial crises. For several summers I was also invited to teach in a graduate program at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (in Ecuador) and to collaborate with faculty at Universidad de Murcia (Spain). These experiences helped greatly on this Fulbright project.”

Lecturers such as Hazera help faculty and officials understand the importance of financial transparency to both companies and financial institutions. Ecuador’s economy is dominated by relatively small closely held businesses that have traditionally resisted disclosing detailed financial data; however, in the long run, greater financial disclosure may help businesses obtain new sources of financing. Also, transparency in the financial system helps countries avert financial crises such as the one experienced by Ecuador in the late 1990s and early 2000s (which resulted in loan defaults, bank runs, and the adoption of the U.S. dollar as the official currency).

Hazera was especially enthusiastic about accepting the invitation to conduct these lectures since ESPAE is a unit of Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL), a graduate polytechnic institution that has collaborated closely with URI in the past.

Hazera hopes to build on this Fulbright experience and other international activities to help the College of Business Administration enhance aspects of its international businesses program.

URI Accounting Professor Alejandro Hazera in Ecuador. Hazera is a Newport resident. (Photo courtesy of Alejandro Hazera)