Mark Higgins

Title: Dean, College of Business Administration (2006-2014)

Expertise: Business Education, Accounting, Taxes, Pension Reform

O.K. We’ve all heard about it — on the news, in blogs and even in some comedy routines — the United States is getting very close to some kind of big cliff. But this isn’t just some ordinary cliff, it’s one that URI’s College of Business Dean Mark Higgins is watching very closely.

“It’s that famous Fiscal Cliff,” said Dean Higgins, who also holds the Alfred J. Verrecchia-Hasbro Inc. Leadership Chair in Business. “This is the popular term being used to describe the possible economic impact if the ‘Budget Control Act of 2011’ takes effect on New Year’s Eve.”

It could be a very sobering start to the New Year. Solving the fiscal cliff will require that Congress enact a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that will leave all taxpayers and accountants scratching their heads.

While this appears to be a complex issue, we provide our undergraduate finance and accounting students with the fundamental skills to solve it…

Dean Higgins says this isn’t a problem that started overnight, and with the variety of elements involved, it’s not something that can be adequately addressed in six weeks. Therefore, he is in favor of a stop-gap solution prior to Jan. 1 with a broad-based solution crafted by the new Congress.

“This problem can’t continue. That’s why I think the term ‘fiscal cliff’ is appropriate.  It is an issue that will require a team of financial and accounting professionals to examine all of the facets, understand the revenue and expense implications of their decisions and develop an unbiased plan to move the country forward.

“While this appears to be a complex issue, we provide our undergraduate finance and accounting students with the fundamental skills to solve it,” said Dean Higgins, who is working with the American Accounting Association on a plan to modify the education of future accounting professionals.

“The bottom line, this adds up to a great lesson in business education. It’s all about negotiation and above all, some very careful accounting,” said the former director of the URI Masters in Accounting Program, whose research in accounting and taxes has been published in textbooks, professional journals, and featured in publications nationwide.


How’d you like to go scuba diving in the tropics for a science class? At a school that’s as big on marine science as URI is, it’s not out of the question. Of course, taking notes underwater is no easy task, but URI junior Sarah Merolla mastered that skill and more while diving on a restored coral reef in the British Virgin Islands, all thanks to a Rhode Island Summer Undergraduates Research Fellowship she received last summer.