KINGSTON, R.I. – July 12, 2022 – Alejandro Hazera, professor of accounting at the University of Rhode Island, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants, one of two educators elected to the board. His two-year term began May 1.
Formed in 1905, the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants is one of the largest statewide professional membership organizations, with more than 1,300 CPAs and other accountants and affiliated industry leaders. As part of its mission, the society provides advocacy and leadership for the profession, promotes a healthy business climate in the state, and offers continuing professional education.
Hazera is a member of the URI College of Business’ executive team as executive director of Inclusive Excellence and is the former accounting area coordinator and Vangermeersch Chair of Accounting. He ran for a seat on the 15-member society board with the goal of leading cooperative efforts to strengthen the relationship between the society and higher education in Rhode Island.
“The society is a terrific organization,” said Hazera. “But there’s never been a strategic coordination between the society and higher education. In the past, the organization has mainly helped in terms of scholarships, but it’s hoped that we can establish a richer and deeper connection.”
“We are very excited to have Alex on the board. He has so much longevity in education and he’s an innovative thinker,” said Marianne Caserta, vice president of finance transformation at NWN Carousel and past chair of the society’s board of directors, who led the nominating committee that recommended Hazera for election. “Over the last seven years, we’ve had one full-time educator on the board so we are excited to bring Alex on at this critical time in the profession’s history.”
One of the main concerns of the group’s members, Caserta said, is the need to educate young people about the profession and attract more of them to become accountants. Hazera sees stronger ties between the society and higher education as a great way to benefit the training of future accountants at URI and other higher education institutions in the state. URI graduates more than 100 accounting students annually from its undergraduate and graduate programs, the only ones in the state to be separately accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
“One initiative that we’ve already started is forming a permanent committee which brings educators and the profession together,” Hazera said. “There’s never been an ongoing discussion about the mutual needs of each group. The profession is looking for more people and we’re looking to make sure we’re getting students the right skills.”
During his term, Hazera hopes to organize reciprocal initiatives that benefit the job placement of accounting graduates while helping smaller accounting firms better recruit candidates. Also, the connection can provide higher education a better understanding of the changing technology in the profession while the vast research done in higher education can benefit the society and the profession.
“One of our most important functions is discovery and research,” said Hazera. “The research that we do gives us a better idea of the long-term emerging trends and also the implications on the practice and on businesses as a whole. We can help the profession understand how things like artificial intelligence, blockchain and other technologies and human behavior affect business.”
As the College of Business’ executive director of Inclusive Excellence and faculty mentor for its chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants, Hazera sees an opportunity to increase the number of accountants in the profession from underrepresented groups. Collaboration between the society and higher education could include recruiting high school students across the state, capitalizing on the society’s many trade and industry conferences, and broadening recruitment opportunities to attract/hire more accounting graduates.
Hazera said he was encouraged to run for a seat on the board of directors by Assistant Accounting Professor Devendra (Dave) Kale and by a discussion with members of the society board during a meeting of the College’s Accounting Advisory Board.
“As the state’s flagship research institution, URI took the initiative to foster this connection,” he said. “There’s always been this disconnect between the profession and academia. We want to see a permanent relationship that will benefit both.”