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Accounting now Accounting and Information Systems

By Sookhan Ho

Spectrum Volume 21 Issue 03 - September 10, 1998

The Department of Accounting in the Pamplin College of Business has changed its name to the Department of Accounting and Information Systems.
The change describes more accurately the department's mission and identity, said Department Head Wayne Leininger. "It better identifies what is being accomplished in our teaching and research efforts, and may help us attract excellent undergraduate and graduate students interested in information systems." The new name, he said, also more fully describes the scope of the department's programs to potential employers and to the university community.
Leininger appointed a special faculty committee in the fall of 1996 to consider the need for a name change. The committee polled faculty members in the department, members of its advisory board, alumni, employers, and students. Though several names had emerged as possibilities, the faculty unanimously endorsed "accounting and information systems," he said. The name change was approved by University Council earlier this summer.
While the name change is reflected in the course code--now ACIS instead of ACCT--the academic major itself remains accounting, with the option being accounting information systems.
"We have a long history of offering courses in information systems," Leininger said. The department established an undergraduate option in accounting information systems in 1983 and an information-systems option in the Master of Accountancy program two years later. The department currently offers 18 information-systems courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This fall semester, about 4,200 students are enrolled for the department's courses, with more than a third of them taking systems courses.
Virginia Tech has granted a cumulative total, through May 1998, of about 4,660 bachelor's degrees in accounting, including more than 500 in the information-systems option. The number of master's of accountancy is a little over 600, including more than 100 in the information-systems option. The number of Ph.D.'s awarded is 69, including eight with an information-systems specialty.
Of the department's 26 faculty members, nine teach information-systems courses exclusively. Five have their Ph.D.'s in information systems. The department's information-systems faculty members publish in leading academic journals in their field and they have received ASPIRES research grants from the university.
Some 34 accounting departments in the country include either management-information systems or information systems as part of their name, Leininger said. He has reviewed the information-systems course offerings and credentials of faculty members at several leading schools, and believes that "Virginia Tech's accounting department compares very favorably with these schools." He said the department is attracting an increasing number of undergraduate and graduate students and plans to expand its course offerings in information systems.