New initiatives. Community service engagement. Student success!
The Accounting HUB Center of Excellence was established in autumn 2021 to support our student’s academic development and lifelong learning, as well as provide an arena for community engagement with faculty, students and the UW community as a whole. Since then the Accounting HUB has launched several initiatives that have had a positive impact on our students and community.
Our peer support initiative was launched in 2021, after receiving feedback that our undergraduate students needed additional academic support in their accounting classes. Students receive support on homework, conceptual understanding, and test preparation from our graduate student HUB workers and the Accounting HUB Specialist either in-person at the HUB or virtually. This student centered, dual delivery approach helps insure students receive the help they need in a manner that is convenient for them.
Accounting Excellence DEI Scholarship
Launched in autumn 2022, the Accounting Excellence DEI Scholarship awarded scholarships to ten MSAcc students who had demonstrated experience with and interest in diversity, equity, inclusion or social justice issues.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
In Autumn 2022, Milgard’s VITA initiative was launched. In a record two and one-half months we partnered with the IRS to open a VITA site on the UW Tacoma campus in January 2023. VITA has given low-income and elderly people access to federal income tax assistance. Most of our clients had no idea how to fill out a tax form so they had refunds they would not have received without VITA. VITA has also increased our (UWT’s) footprint and impact on the community at the grassroots level. We have been able to touch over 75 families and their networks without seeking anything in return.
"One community member called me and said 'why did we not have this program earlier,' and how grateful they were to get this facility at UWT--right in their backyard" - Dean Altaf Merchant
Our students gained valuable hands-on tax preparation experience and increased their client engagement skills. It was exciting to see the students' progress into confident tax preparers over the course of the three months the site was open. We gathered some of the key points below:
Tax returns were prepared from January 27th till April 15th, 2023
A total of 2 Staff members and 2 faculty members participated
A total of 21 students gained experience through VITA
76 Tax returns were prepared
VITA helped to bring over $86,000 in refunds to the community
VITA helped in identifying nearly $21,000 in tax liabilities
Refund of $1,800 for 7 Working Families Tax Credit applications to the State of Washington were prepared
1 amended tax return, 6 returns for Covid Relief Check rebates for 2021 and 2020 were prepared
Altaf Merchant, Ph.D., The Gary E., and James. A. Endowed Dean of the Milgard School of Business had the following to say regarding this new program, "The Milgard School mission is based on three pillars – world-class education, an intellectual curiosity, and community engagement. VITA ticks all of the three pillars and provides one more platform for experiential learning and service..."
The VITA program at the Milgard School of Business, UWT, has become a highly impactful initiative, combining community outreach with experiential learning for students. The idea emerged from the desire to increase student participation and community impact. Flyers and online platforms were used to spread the word about the UWT VITA site in community centers, public libraries, and retirement centers.
Participating students gained valuable real-world experience and developed empathy through direct interactions with low-income and elderly individuals. The public expressed gratitude for the free assistance, emphasizing the financial burden of tax preparation services. The program's success has paved the way for future expansion, aiming to serve more individuals and involve a larger number of students, faculty, and staff. With increased planning and strategizing, the goal is for UWT's VITA site to become a prominent tax service provider in the south sound area.
Milgard hosted Dr. Monica Singhania, Fulbright OLF in November 2023 to share her research in the area of ESG. Dr. Singhania lectured in a graduate and two undergraduate classes on her research and presented a research lecture to the faculty, staff, students, and community. She also held small group discussions with faculty, the Executive in Residence, and the Accounting Advisory Board.
2023 Contemporary Accounting Forum: Environmental, Social, and Governance were held in February 2023. A panel of industry executives shared their considerable experience with evolving ESG standards. Each stressed that students interested in the ESG space should pursue their CPA. The CAF was hosted by the Accounting Student Association and Milgard School of Business
Accounting Mentorship Programs
MSAcc students have the opportunity to participate in one of two mentorship programs, The Public Accounting Mentorship Program and the Graduate Accounting Mentorship Program. These student-centered mentorship programs allow students to develop professional relationships with accounting professionals. The Public Accounting Mentorship Program matches students with accounting professionals in public accounting. This program is currently being supported by Deloitte and Moss Adams. The Graduate Public Accounting Program matches students with accounting professionals in industry, government, and non-profit accounting.
The Accounting Advisory Board
Established in autumn 2021, Milgard’s Accounting Advisory Board works to support accounting education at the University of Washington Tacoma by providing strategic thought partnerships and community connections to Program leadership and accounting faculty. It is comprised of a diverse set of professionals who share a commitment to the Milgard School of Business and its accounting programs, faculty, staff, and students. The Accounting Advisory Board invests its time, energy, and resources on a pro bono basis for the betterment of the Program and its stakeholders. The School and Program value and recognize these multifaceted contributions.
Executive in Residence
The Accounting Executive-in-Residence, Sandeep Verma is available to meet with students to discuss industry trends and careers in accounting. Mr. Verma provided significant support to the ASA in the planning an execution of this year’s CAF and was a panelist in last year’s CAF.
UWT built strategic alliances; MSB also signed a memorandum of understanding with TransStadia Institute in Ahmedabad, India, and Xavier University, Bhubaneshwar, India. This will herald a new era of student and faculty exchange programs, study abroad, immersion visits, research collaborations, co-teaching opportunities, and executive programs.
Innovative systems in UW Tacoma's new Milgard Hall include custom-designed modular pods containing electrical, low-voltage, plumbing and mechanical systems such as lighting, fire detectors and sprinklers.
Former student Arabelis Wally has received a prestigious fellowship at Johns Hopkins University that will support her graduate work. The Thomas Scholarship is awarded to "exceptional students from ... minority-serving institutions to pursue PhDs in STEM fields ... ."